## 5. Generating your own data

Instead of plotting experimental data, physicists often like to
``doodle'' with mathematical expressions. Sometimes it's an attempt to
visualize a solution to some differential equation, to see if it makes
sense; or it's a first step in finding the nulls of a
complicated polynomial; possibly it's a quick way to look
up a family of standard mathematical functions. Programs like
`maple` or `mathematica` do these things extremely well, but in many
cases `plotdata` has sufficient capabilities, and is much faster.

As an example, execute the following commands:

`PLOTDATA: `**generate x 0,0.1,10**

PLOTDATA: **y=x**2*exp(-x)**

PLOTDATA: **graph x,y**

and you can see right away that the function
has a
maximum value of about 0.55 near
The vector `x` was
generated from 0 to 10 in steps of 0.1, then we calculated `y(x)`
using the standard Fortran syntax, and plotted `y` *vs*.
`x` in the usual way. We can look for the zeroes of the
first derivative, in this way:

`PLOTDATA: `**set lintyp 9**

PLOTDATA: **derivative x y**

PLOTDATA: **replot**

Both the function and its derivative show up on the same plot:

PostScript file

**Figure 2. A physicist's `doodle'**. We plot here
and its first derivative (the dotted line).

For the derivative, we set the line type (`set lintyp`) to
something other than the default value of 0, the solid line type (use
`display lines` to see what line types are available).
Numerical integration, differentiation, spline interpolation, a large
library of special functions (would you like to know what the
fourth-order Laguerre polynomial looks like? - try `y=laguerre(4,x)`) - these are all things that `plotdata` does
with ease. It is pointless to try to provide you with a
comprehensive list of its capabilities, this is what the manuals are
for. Remember, you don't have to know all of `plotdata`'s commands, just
get the feel for where things are in the manual, to be able to look
them up quickly when needed. For example, the special functions known
to `plotdata` are listed in Appendix C of the *User's Manual*.

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