The problem that leads me here begins with a quantity I have previously defined, let's call it test, that has many other quantities in its definition. When evaluated, test is an expression that includes two variables, let's call them k and x. A MWE would be

test = kx;

I wish to create a function of k that includes a NIntegration of test over x with limits that involve k. An example would be

testint[k_] := NIntegrate[test, {x, k, 2k}];

Evaluating this for some k , say k = .1, returns an error:


NIntegrate::inumr: The integrand k x has evaluated to non-numerical values for all sampling points in the region with boundaries {{0.1,0.2}}.

NIntegrate[k x, {x, 0.1, 0.2}]

However, if I define testint using a temporary variable and perform a replacement in the argument of NIntegrate , then it computes fine:

>>testint[k1_] := NIntegrate[test/.k->k1, {x, k1, 2k1}];

I found this answer, which led me to try the explicit substitution: Replace variable with value prior to evaluating NIntegrate
Another answer addresses the order of NIntegrate with the help of the ?NumericQ pattern check: How do I prevent NIntegrate::inumr errors within other functions?

My question is Why does NIntegrate require this explicit substitution in order to compute?

As a test, I even tried removing NIntegrates HoldAll attribute thinking that would force the evaluation of test before the integration. It did, but not soon enough to help.

>>test = k x;
>>ClearAttributes[NIntegrate, HoldAll]
>>testint[k_] := NIntegrate[testin, {x, k, 2 k}];

NIntegrate::inumr: The integrand k x has evaluated to non-numerical values for all sampling points in the region with boundaries {{0.1,0.2}}.

{testint[0.1], NIntegrate[test, {x, 0.1, 2 0.1}], {test, k x}, {{2 0.1, 0.2}, {x, 0.1, 0.2}}, NIntegrate[k x, {x, 0.1, 0.2}], {{x} =., {x =.}, {x =., Null}, {Null}}, {x =., Null}, ...

Thanks in advance!

  • $\begingroup$ (1) kx is not the same as k*x or k x (note space). (2) The evaluation might be less noisy if you define testint[k_?NumericQ] := ... Alternatively could do NIntegrate[...,Method->{"SymbolicProcessing"->None}] in case that's the cause of the messages (I have not tested this) $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 18:12

1 Answer 1


The definition testint[k_] := NIntegrate[test, {x, k, 2k}]; replaces only the k that appear in the literal code. Thus testint[0.1] returns the expression

NIntegrate[test, {x, 0.1, 2*0.1}]

Only then is test evaluated, at which point the integrand becomes k x, after testint[0.1] is done and all the instances of k have been replaced (that are going to be replaced). Thus the trouble is in how testint and test are defined, not with NIntegrate per se.

This can be observed in the output of Trace[]:

testint[0.1] // Trace
  • $\begingroup$ Another way to look at it is that the argument k to testint is localized and the k in test is Global` , but that is rather a half-explanation, since the localization mechanism makes a difference. NIntegrate localizes x effectively with Block, a different mechanism. $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure what the purpose of the OP's code is. One fix is to make dependencies explicit: ClearAll[test]; test[k_, x_] := k*x. $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 21:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.