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88. Error and warning messages

This chapter provides detailed information about the meaning of some error messages or on how to recover from errors.


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88.1 Error messages


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88.1.1 part: fell off the end

part() was used to access the nth item in something that has less than n items.

Error messages


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88.1.2 undefined variable (draw or plot)

A function could not be plotted since it still contained a variable maxima doesn't know the value of.

In order to find out which variable this could be it is sometimes helpful to temporarily replace the name of the drawing command (draw2d, plot2d or similar) by a random name (for example ddraw2d) that doesn't coincide with the name of an existing function to make maxima print out what parameters the drawing command sees.

(%i1) load("draw")$
(%i2) f(x):=sin(omega*t);
(%o2) f(x) := sin(omega t)
(%i3) draw2d(
        explicit(
          f(x),
          x,1,10
        )
      );
draw2d (explicit): non defined variable
 -- an error. To debug this try: debugmode(true);
(%i4) ddraw2d(
        explicit(
          f(x),
          x,1,10
        )
      );
(%o4) ddraw2d(explicit(sin(omega t), x, 1, 10))

Categories:  Error messages


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88.1.3 loadfile: failed to load <filename>

This error message normally indicates that the file exists, but can not be read. If the file is present and readable there is another possible for this error message: Maxima can compile packages to native binary files in order to make them run faster. If after compiling the file something in the system has changed in a way that makes it incompatible with the binary the binary the file cannot be loaded any more. Maxima normally puts binary files it creates from its own packages in a folder named binary within the folder whose name it is printed after typing:

(%i1) maxima_userdir;
(%o1)                 /home/gunter/.maxima

If this directory is missing maxima will recreate it again as soon as it has to compile a package.

Error messages


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88.1.4 Only symbols can be bound

The most probable cause for this error is that there was an attempt to either use a number or a variable whose numerical value is known as a loop counter.


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88.1.5 Out of memory

Lisp typically handles several types of memory containing at least one stack and a heap that contains user objects. To avoid running out of memory several approaches might be useful:

Categories:  Error messages


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88.1.6 assignment: cannot assign to <function name>

Maxima supports several assignment operators. When trying to define a function := has to be used.


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88.1.7 apply: no such "list" element

One common cause for this error message is that square brackets operator ([ ]) was used trying to access a list element that whose element number was < 1 or > length(list).

Error messages


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88.1.8 incorrect syntax: , is not a prefix operator

This might be caused by a command starting with a comma (,) or by one comma being directly followed by another one..

Error messages


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88.1.9 makelist: second argument must evaluate to a number

makelist expects the second argument to be the name of the variable whose value is to be stepped. This time instead of the name of a still-undefined variable maxima has found something else, possibly a list or the name of a list.

Categories:  Error messages


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88.1.10 incorrect syntax: Illegal use of delimiter )

Common reasons for this error appearing are a closing parenthesis without an opening one or a closing parenthesis directly preceded by a comma.

Error messages


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88.1.11 VTK is not installed, which is required for Scene

This might either mean that VTK is actually not installed - or cannot be found by maxima - or that maxima has no write access to the directory whose name is output if the following maxima command is entered:

(%i1) maxima_tempdir;
(%o1)                     /home/gunter

Categories:  Error messages


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88.2 Warning messages


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88.2.1 Encountered undefined variable <x> in translation

A function was compiled but the type of the variable x was not known. This means that the compiled command contains additional code that makes it retain all the flexibility maxima provides in respect to this variable. If x isn't meant as a variable name but just a named option to a command prepending the named option by a single quote (') should resolve this issue.


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88.2.2 Rat: replaced <x> by <y> = <z>

Floating-point numbers provide a maximum number of digits that is typically high, but still limited. Good examples that this limitation might be too low even for harmless-looking examples include Wilkinson's Polynomial, The Rump polynomial and the fact that an exact 1/10 cannot be expressed as a binary floating-point number. In places where the floating-point error might add up or hinder terms from cancelling each other out maxima therefore by default replaces them with exact fractions. See also ratprint, ratepsilon, bftorat, fpprintprec and rationalize.

Warning messages


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