I need to plot the case with M = 16: enter image description here

Unfortunately, the way I'm doing it seems completely wrong:


\begin{figure}[h] \label{fig:csm:graph}
        \begin{axis}[axis lines = middle, xlabel = $d - z$, ylabel = $I$]
            \pgfplotsinvokeforeach{1, 2,..., 16}{
                \def\ck{pi * (2 * #1 - 1)}
                \xdef\sum{\sum + (1 / \ck) * sin(\ck * x)}
            \xdef\sum{2 * \sum + 0.5}
            \addplot[domain = -0.5:1, red] (x, {\sum});

Any help would be much appreciated.

EDIT: Added MWE.

  • Welcome to TeX.SX! Please help us to help you and add a minimal working example (MWE) that illustrates your problem. It will be much easier for us to reproduce your situation and find out what the issue is when we see compilable code, starting with \documentclass{...} and ending with \end{document}.
    – user31729
    Apr 24, 2015 at 17:51
  • 1
    Avoid using \sum or you'll not be able to use the symbol in math formulas. Substitute with \SUM or anything else.
    – egreg
    Apr 24, 2015 at 18:08
  • I am no tikz expert, but I wonder if the calculation in the loop is actually updating the \sum (by the way, \sum is LaTeX macro 'reserved' for other purposes) -- just checked. It does no calculation of course!
    – user31729
    Apr 24, 2015 at 18:08
  • 1
    sin expects its argument in degrees, so you have to use sin(deg(\ck * x)) and also to increase the number of samples.
    – egreg
    Apr 24, 2015 at 18:12
  • 1
    I think, this could be achieved better by using an external calculation and storing the relevant fourier expansion data to a file, reading it with pgfplotstable
    – user31729
    Apr 24, 2015 at 18:14

1 Answer 1


For more complicated math, LaTeX is not the proper tool. Using a computer algebra system called Sage, running through a (free) Sagemath Cloud account you can quickly get your plots.

t = var('t')
x = var('x')
f1 = lambda t: 1
f2 = lambda t: 0
f = Piecewise([[(-1,0),f1],[(0,1),f2]])
LowerY = -.2
UpperY = 1.2
LowerX = -.5
UpperX = .5
step = .005
g =.5
for i in range(1,17):
    g += -2*(1/(pi*(2*i-1)))*sin((pi*(2*i-1))*x)
x_coords = [t for t in srange(LowerX,UpperX,step)]
y_coords = [g(t).n(digits=6) for t in srange(LowerX,UpperX,step)]

output = r""
output += r"\begin{tikzpicture}[scale=.7]"
output += r"\begin{axis}[xmin=%f,xmax=%f,ymin= %f,ymax=%f]"% (LowerX,UpperX,LowerY, UpperY)
output += r"\addplot[thin, blue, unbounded coords=jump] coordinates {"
for i in range(0,len(x_coords)-1):
    if (y_coords[i])<LowerY or (y_coords[i])>UpperY:
        output += r"(%f , inf) "%(x_coords[i])
        output += r"(%f , %f) "%(x_coords[i],y_coords[i])
output += r"};"
output += r"\end{axis}"
output += r"\end{tikzpicture}"
\sageplot[width=6cm]{plot(Fourier, (x, -.5, .5),ymin=-.2,   ymax=1.2,detect_poles=True)}

Resulting in this output:enter image description here Using Sage, you have to tell it the function you're approximating (in your case the piece-wise function of 1 and 0) and Sage takes care of the rest-- that's the second picture plotted (using the code above the #'s). Using pgfplots you have to build the function (which is what most of the code below the #'s is doing). Python doesn't execute the last number, hence the loop really goes to 16, not 17.


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