Suppose I have a function of a variable f, depending on some other parameters a and b, for example:

fun[f_,a_,b_] := Sin[a*f] + Cos[b*f]

I can plot and manipulate this function for some independent values of the parameters a and b:

Manipulate[Plot[fun[f,a,b], {f, 0, 10}], {a,0,5},{b,0,5}]

enter image description here

Now, suppose I would like to give discrete values to these parameters, and change both at the same time. For example,I define two points:

A = Sequence[1,1];


B = Sequence[4,2];

I can do this plots:

Plot[fun[f,A], {f, 0, 10}] or Plot[fun[f,B], {f, 0, 10}]

but when I try to combine them, in order to include the possibility to manually choose between 'A' or 'B',

Manipulate[Plot[fun[f, X], {f, 0, 10}], {X, A, B}]

I obtain an empty plot... Instead, I would like to get a plot with two button, 'A' and 'B', corresponding to two different pairs of values for the parameters a and b.

I tried to use List[ ] instead of Sequence[ ], but it failed to work too! I also tried Row[ ], adding some braces but nothing happened... :(

What should I do? Where is the problem with my code?

Thank you all in advance!


2 Answers 2


Is something like this what you seek?

fun[f_, a_, b_] := Sin[a f] + Cos[b f];
 Plot[fun[f, params[[1]], params[[2]]], {f, 0, 10}],
   {{params, {1, 1}}, {{1, 1} -> "A", {4, 2} -> "B"}}]

There are probably more elegant ways to do this, but it sounds like you want a finite set of parameter pairs. You could have a single variable represent each parameter pair in the manipulate, and then you could select which param to pass to your function using Part (the [[...]] operator).

Manipulate with discrete parameters

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, Christopher! As you pointed out, [[...]] was the key to make it work! As regards the 'elegance', well... it is ok to me! ;) $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2014 at 8:26

Better to use Lists, for your A and B e.g. something like:

a = {1, 1}; b = {4, 2};

Then use Part, [[i]], to extract the elements.

 Plot[fun[f, x[[1]], x[[2]]], {f, 0, 10}], {{x, a}, {a -> "A", b -> "B"}}]

Sequence should not be used to group items. Most functions automatically splice in Sequence objects, e.g. Head[A] gives an error message rather than returning Sequence, and this can be confusing. Indeed the definition of the control x in your Manipulate ends up being {x, 1, 1, 4, 2} which results in an InputField control rather than the more usual SetterBar or Slider. (It's also not a good idea to use uppercase variables as these can be reserved by the system, e.g. N.)

If you were to have a variable number of arguments to fun then you may want to use a construct like fun[f, Sequence@@list] to splice in the arguments but most times you would simply pass in list and use that in the function.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Could you explain why Generally Sequence should be avoided in Mathematica code. further? $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2014 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, Mike, for your answer and your precious suggestions! $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2014 at 8:27
  • $\begingroup$ @belisarius - is that better? $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2014 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeLimaOscar Perhaps Sequence[] should be avoided as a mean of grouping objects for later treatment, but not "in general" $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2014 at 17:55

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