matplotlib: latex strings are not interpreted

If the LaTeX strings are not intepreted in matplotlib (e.g., in the xlabel), check your configuration file
( see previous post for matplotlib configuration file).

You can either do it for one session :

   rc('text', usetex=True)
   plot([1,2],[3,4]); title('a^2')

or permanently within the matplolibrc by adding this line:

text.usetex        : true
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