[OS X TeX] "Runaway argument?" error in figure caption

John B. Thoo jthoo at yccd.edu
Tue Jul 17 15:38:25 CEST 2012

Hi, everyone.  I apologize that this is not a Mac-specific question, but rather a general LaTeX question; however, I don't know whom else to ask.

This code

%% axes
  \draw[help lines,lightgray] (-1,-1) grid (5,5);
  \draw[thin] (-1,0) -- (5,0) node[anchor=north]{$x$};
  \draw[thin] (0,-1) -- (0,5) node[anchor=west]{$y$};
%% u and (u1,u2)
  \draw[thick,-latex] (0,0) -- (3,4);
    \draw (1.6,2) node[anchor=west]{$\vec{u} = \left[\begin{array}{c} 3 \\ 4 \end{array}\right]$};
  \fill (3,4) circle (0.08) node[anchor=west]{$(3,4)$};
  \caption{It is useful to picture vectors as arrows, although this may not be a literal representation of vectors.  Here we identify the vector $\vec{u} = \left[\begin{smallmatrix} 3 \\ 4 \end{smallmatrix}\right]$ in $\R{2}$ represented as an arrow with the point $(3,4)$ in the $xy$ plane.}

produces this error

! Argument of \@caption has an extra }.
<inserted text> 
l.177 ...ith the point $(3,4)$ in the $xy$ plane.}
Runaway argument?
\@captype {\def \@currenvir {smallmatrix}\edef \@currenvline {\on at line \ETC.
! Paragraph ended before \@caption was complete.
<to be read again> 
l.177 ...ith the point $(3,4)$ in the $xy$ plane.}

Overfull \hbox (73.62pt too wide) in paragraph at lines 217--249
[6] [7]

The figure and caption appear to typeset OK, though.  I think the error is because of the  \begin{smalltrix}...\end{smallmatrix},  but I don't know how to fix it.

Any suggestions?  I am using TeX-Live 2009 that I typeset using pdflatex in an xterm window and view using Preview.  My OS is Lion.

Thanks very much.

(receives the digest version)

"Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt....  A man may be annoyed that he cannot work out a mathematical problem ... without doubting that it admits an answer."

---John Henry Newman [_Apologia_, p. 239 in Project Gutenberg's 

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