I have in \pgfmathsetmacros some stored variables. I checked that math on Mathematica when the plotted points came back wrong. \pm\infp is approx \pm 1.51022 and \pm\infn is approx \pm 0.46823. Then I need to determine their corresponding y values. The equation is x^2exp(-x^2). It appears that everything is set up correctly, but the plot only shows one point at around (-3, 0) which isn't in the ball park. Since everything appears correct, I am not sure what is going on or wrong.

\documentclass[tikz, convert = false]{standalone}%

\pgfplotsset{compat = 1.10}

  \pgfmathsetmacro{\infp}{sqrt(5 + sqrt(17))/2}
  \pgfmathsetmacro{\infn}{sqrt(5 - sqrt(17))/2}
    axis lines = middle,
    xmin = -3,
    xmax = 3,
    ymin = 0,
    ymax = .5,
    xlabel = {x},
    ylabel = {y},
    ytick = {0.4},
    unit vector ratio = 1 1 1
    \addplot[blue, smooth] gnuplot[domain = -3:3, samples = 500]

    \foreach \x/\y in {\infp/\yp, -\infp/\yp, \infn/\yn, -\infn/\yn}{
        \endgroup\noexpand\filldraw[red] (\x, \y) circle[radius = 0.025];}
  • Is -x^2=(-x)^2 or -x^2=-(x^2) ? Obviously power takes precedence over minus in normal math, but I do not think it is well defined in inline notation. Apr 23, 2014 at 15:52
  • @Hans-PeterE.Kristiansen The equation is x^2*exp(-x^2) so it is set up correctly for the math.
    – dustin
    Apr 23, 2014 at 15:53
  • When I try to run this I get an error for the line containing gnuplot. Is there something special I must do other than running pdflatex on the document file?
    – A.Ellett
    Apr 23, 2014 at 16:35
  • @A.Ellett if you want to run the file, you will need to do shell escape. Also, you may need to do a few runs since plot tables are generated. If you use latexmk, then one calling to that will work.
    – dustin
    Apr 23, 2014 at 16:59

1 Answer 1


pgfplots currently supports only the axis cs in order to write something into the axis.

Consequently, you need to write

\filldraw (axis cs:\x,\y) ... ;

and all is good.

  • Actually... well, I fear this is more my mistake/lack of courage. In the early days of pgfplots, I feared that reconfiguring the standard syntax (\x,\y) to use axis cs implicitly would cause lots of unanticipated bugs. Your question was the "kick-off" to convince me that this needs to done and can be done and I made an item on my todo list. It is about time to revisit some of the older and complicated limitations of pgfplots. Apr 24, 2014 at 5:13

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