I'm trying to learn how to use PGF/TikZ to draw pictures, in particular a chain of nodes.

I have the following picture:

\begin{tikzpicture}[start chain, node distance=5mm]
  \node [on chain,join] {$t_\mathrm{opt flow}$};  
  \node [on chain,join] {$foo$};

I would expect this to yield two nodes connected by a simple line. Instead, when I run LaTex, I get the following error:

./NIQ_Principles.tex:39: Package PGF Math Error: Unknown function `of'.
./NIQ_Principles.tex:40: Extra }, or forgotten \endgroup.\endpgfpicture ... \pgf@y }\endgroup \hss \egroup 
                                                  \pgf@insertlayers \endgrou...

Can someone help me understand what I'm doing wrong?


Here is my complete example:




\begin{tikzpicture} [start chain, node distance=5mm]
  \node [on chain,join] {foo};  
  \node [on chain,join] {bar};


And here is the output I get:

ERROR: Package PGF Math Error: Unknown function `of'.

--- TeX said ---

See the PGF Math package documentation for explanation.
Type  H <return>  for immediate help.

l.10   \node [on chain,join]
--- HELP ---
From the .log file...

This error message was generated by an \errmessage
command, so I can't give any explicit help.
Pretend that you're Hercule Poirot: Examine all clues,
and deduce the truth by order and method.

I can't really claim that I'm as smart as Mr Poirot, so can someone point me in the right direction?

  • With a ecm "example complete and minimal" perhaps i's possible to give a correct answer. Your example compiles with pgf 2.1 and the library chains (with pdflatex and latex). Do you try an example from the pgfmanual ? you can see if you miss something or see if you need to install a correct version of pgf Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 6:35
  • 1
    Package PGF Math Error ? perhaps you have two versions of pgf on your distribution ? Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 6:44
  • @Altermundus I've added a complete example to the question, one that doesn't work on my machine but which is very close to the examples given in the TikZ documentation.
    – lindelof
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 5:27
  • your example works with pgf 2.1 cvs without error Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 5:49

1 Answer 1


I found that the pgf package installed under Ubuntu was version 2.00, whereas the latest version (and the one from whose documentation I was trying the examples) was 2.10.

Installing the latest version of pgf under my local texmf tree solved the problem.

  • It would be great of you accept your answer by clicking the check mark on the left of the answer.
    – Stefan Kottwitz
    Commented Nov 27, 2011 at 18:35

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