All Questions

443
votes
37answers
93k views

What are the most common pitfalls awaiting new users?

As you may already know, Mathematica is a wonderful piece of software. However, it has a few characteristics that tend to confuse new (and sometimes not-so-new) users. That can be clearly seen from ...
519
votes
19answers
128k views

Where can I find examples of good Mathematica programming practice?

I consider myself a pretty good Mathematica programmer, but I'm always looking out for ways to either improve my way of doing things in Mathematica, or to see if there's something nifty that I haven't ...
212
votes
7answers
12k views

What are the use cases for different scoping constructs?

Mathematica includes three functions that I know of which can be used to effectively (if not actually) define a variable and give it a value within a local scope: ...
174
votes
3answers
38k views

Alternatives to procedural loops and iterating over lists in Mathematica

While there are some cases where a For loop might be reasonable, it's a general mantra – one I subscribe to myself – that "if you are using a ...
88
votes
4answers
11k views

Plot draws list of curves in same color when not using Evaluate

This example comes from the Mathematica documentation for Plot under Basic Examples. Can someone please explain why these are each plotted as a different color in ...
153
votes
8answers
16k views

List of compilable functions

Is there somewhere a list on the functions that Compile can compile, or the cases in which a particular function can be compiled that I haven't found? I'd be glad ...
39
votes
3answers
10k views

How do I work with Root objects?

I want to solve the trigonometric equation : $$(3-\cos 4x )\cdot (\sin x - \cos x ) = 2.$$ I tried Solve[(3 - Cos[4*x])*(Sin[x] - Cos[x]) == 2, x] It returns the ...
111
votes
3answers
6k views

What is a Mathematica packed array?

A simple sounding question with a few sub questions: What is the difference between unpacked vs packed array? Are packed arrays more space efficent, how much so? Are packed arrays more time ...
169
votes
9answers
55k views

Elegant operations on matrix rows and columns

Question The Mathematica tutorial has a section 'Basic Matrix Operations', describing operations like transpose, inverse and determinant. These operations all work on entire matrices. I am missing a ...
174
votes
2answers
9k views

What is the distinction between DownValues, UpValues, SubValues, and OwnValues?

When reading through the documentation, you often encounter the phrases DownValues, UpValues, ...
98
votes
7answers
5k views

What is the most convenient way to read definitions of in-memory symbols when we don't have the source files? (Spelunking tools)

Note: I put Simon's implementation on GitHub. Contributions welcome! When trying to read the definition of already defined (package or built-in) symbols using ...
163
votes
18answers
11k views

What are some useful, undocumented Mathematica functions?

There have already been some questions about some undocumented functionality in Mathematica. Such as (please add to these lists!) How can one find undocumented options or option values in Mathematica?...
85
votes
5answers
10k views

What does the construct f[x_] := f[x] = … mean?

This question mentions "x := x = trickery". What does defining a function as f[x_] := f[x] = ... do and what is it good for?
46
votes
4answers
2k views

Enforcing correct variable bindings and avoiding renamings for conflicting variables in nested scoping constructs

Using global variables the following turns an "expression" into a Function: expr = 2 x; Function[x, Evaluate[expr]] Of course ...
45
votes
7answers
67k views

Assign the results from a Solve to variable(s)

I understand Mathematica can't assign the results of a Solve to the unknowns because there may be more than 1 solution. How can I assign the 4 values of following result to variables? ...
26
votes
6answers
3k views

How are parameters evaluated for a Plot in Manipulate

I am trying to get my head around how Manipulate evaluates functions in a Plot. I have read the introduction to Manipulate, and introduction to Dynamic, but I still ...
44
votes
8answers
10k views

About multi-root search in Mathematica for transcendental equations

I have some questions for multiroot search for transcendental equations. Is there any clever solution to find all the roots for a transcendental equation in a specific range? Perhaps ...
42
votes
4answers
8k views

Why does MatrixForm affect calculations?

This is a really newbie question, but it has me confused. Why does this code work without // MatrixForm and doesn't work with ...
128
votes
8answers
7k views

Can one identify the design patterns of Mathematica?

... or are they unnecessary in such a high-level language? I've been thinking about programming style, coding standards and the like quite a bit lately, the result of my current work on a mixed .Net/...
40
votes
4answers
3k views

Function in Table

I need a table with the elements made of pure functions and list elements. This is a simplified example: I need a list as: ...
86
votes
4answers
4k views

Replacement inside held expression

I wish to make a replacement inside a held expression: f[x_Real] := x^2; Hold[{2., 3.}] /. n_Real :> f[n] The desired output is ...
65
votes
10answers
3k views

Injecting a sequence of expressions into a held expression

Consider the following toy example: Hold[{1, 2, x}] /. x -> Sequence[3, 4] It will give Hold[{1, 2, Sequence[3, 4]}] ...
76
votes
9answers
5k views

Updating Wagon's FindAllCrossings2D[] function

Stan Wagon's Mathematica in Action (second edition; I haven't read the third edition and I'm hoping to eventually see it), demonstrates a nifty function called ...
64
votes
4answers
11k views

Plotting implicitly-defined space curves

It is known that space curves can either be defined parametrically, $$\begin{align*}x&=f(t)\\y&=g(t)\\z&=h(t)\end{align*}$$ or as the intersection of two surfaces, $$\begin{align*}F(x,y,...
58
votes
4answers
4k views

How do I evaluate only one step of an expression?

I am looking for a simple, robust way to evaluate an expression only one step, and return the result in a held form. The definition of a single step is ambiguous, and this itself is probably worthy ...
115
votes
6answers
114k views

Get a “step-by-step” evaluation in Mathematica

Is it possible in Mathematica to get a step-by-step evaluation of some functions; that's to say, outputting not only the result but all the stages that have led to it? If so, how does one do it? ...
33
votes
4answers
3k views

Dynamic Euler–Bernoulli beam equation

I am trying to solve for the vibration of a Euler–Bernoulli beam. The equation is $\frac{\partial ^2u(t,x)}{\partial t^2}+\frac{\partial ^4u(t,x)}{\partial x^4}=0$ For the boundary conditions I ...
65
votes
4answers
15k views

How do I save a variable or function definition to a file?

Is it possible to save a function which was created via Interpolation of some data in such a way that I can use this function in a new Mathematica session without ...
79
votes
3answers
9k views

Why should I avoid the For loop in Mathematica?

Some people advise against the use of For loops in Mathematica. Why? Should I heed this advice? What is wrong with For? What ...
142
votes
9answers
40k views

1 Plot, 2 Scale/Axis

I would like to plot those two datasets on top of each other. But they have very different range on the $y$ axis. How can I have two different axis? I found the following on the help menu but quite ...
153
votes
5answers
13k views

Are you interested in purchasing David Wagner's “Power programming with Mathematica”?

I recently contacted McGraw-Hill to see if they have a mechanism in place for printing out-of-print books that are still of interest. Specifically, I asked about "Power programming with Mathematica" ...
67
votes
5answers
26k views

Creating legends for plots with multiple lines?

So I have a graph with multiple lists, for e.g. data = {{1,2}, {3,4}, {3,5}, {2,3} . . .} If I then do ...
164
votes
6answers
18k views

How to compile effectively?

What are the best practices of compiling functions? I understand that this is a vague question, but let me list some aspects that might trigger useful answers. Some of these have already been answered ...
53
votes
2answers
5k views

Do I have to code each case of this Grid full of plots separately?

I have written some custom functions to draw multi-panel graphs like this one: It's done by passing a matrix of (custom) plotting functions to a MultiPanelGraph ...
111
votes
7answers
14k views

Struct equivalent in Mathematica?

I really miss having something like a struct in Mathematica. I know of (and regularly use) a couple of programming techniques which feel like a ...
79
votes
11answers
16k views

How to check if a 2D point is in a polygon?

Background: I use code from An Efficient Test For A Point To Be In A Convex Polygon Wolfram Demonstration to check if a point ( mouse pointer ) is in a ( convex ) polygon. Clearly this code fails for ...
53
votes
4answers
7k views

Can I simplify an expression into form which uses my own definitions?

This seems like a simple thing to do, but I couldn't find anything relevant from Mathematica documentation. So suppose I have an expression: a*b/(a + a*Cos[a/b]) ...
20
votes
7answers
1k views
50
votes
1answer
2k views

What's inside InterpolatingFunction[{{1., 4.}}, <>]?

I'm curious what's inside the InterpolationFunction object? For example: ...
108
votes
9answers
21k views

Creating Mathematica packages

I'm building a package to help me write packages and their documentation. In this post I explained how to make a package and its documentation. In the answer I provided I describe how to build a very ...
30
votes
2answers
2k views

Plot Option Precedence while combining Plots with Show[]

I like to build sophisticated plots by combining simpler ones with Show[]. Typically this involves setting non-default Plot-Options with the different Plot-Commands,...
73
votes
2answers
4k views

Extract values for ViewMatrix from a Graphics3D

Under More Information in the help page of ViewMatrix the following entry can be found With the setting ...
9
votes
2answers
820 views

Programming with Dynamic

I don't understand the following: f[a_, b_] := a + b ls = {1, 2, 3}; MapThread[f, {ls, {10, 20, 30}}] This yields ( as expected ) {11,22,33} If I change ...
123
votes
8answers
26k views

$\LaTeX$ and Mathematica

I quite often would like to draw graphics in my $\LaTeX$ documents using Mathematica. I have encountered three problems. I would like to know if there are any workarounds to these problems I would ...
50
votes
8answers
18k views

How to avoid returning a Null if there is no “else” condition in an If construct

I need to use If but with only one option that is if "a" then do "b", else do nothing. So I wrote If[a,b] but the problem is ...
47
votes
6answers
10k views

Finding real roots of negative numbers (for example, $\sqrt[3]{-8}$)

Say I want to quickly calculate $\sqrt[3]{-8}$, to which the most obvious solution is $-2$. When I input $\sqrt[3]{-8}$ or Power[-8, 3^-1], Mathematica gives the ...
69
votes
7answers
5k views

Partitioning with varying partition size

How can I partition a list into partitions whose sizes vary? The length of the $k$'th partition is a function $f(k)$. For example: if $l = \{1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6\}$ and $f(k) = k$. Then the partitioning ...
41
votes
3answers
2k views

Funny behaviour when plotting a polynomial of high degree and large coefficients

I am trying to plot a polynomial of degree $29$ on the domain $[0,1]$, with fairly large coefficients: ...
72
votes
4answers
5k views

Using a PatternTest versus a Condition for pattern matching

My last question to the site resulted in several answers that involve using pattern matching in Mathematica, a feature I wasn't very familiar with at the time. I am currently reading Mathematica ...
36
votes
5answers
39k views

Plotting Complex Quantity Functions

Trying to plot with complex quantities seems not to work properly in what I want to accomplish. I would like to know if there is a general rule/way of plotting when you have complex counterparts in ...

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