Matplotlib Tutorial
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Matplotlib - PyLab



PyLab is a procedural interface to the Matplotlib and provides a Matlab like experience for the user. Matplotlib is the whole package, matplotlib.pyplot is a module in Matplotlib, and PyLab is a module that gets installed alongside Matplotlib.

PyLab imports portions of Matplotlib and NumPy. Many examples on the web use it as a simpler Matlab like experience, but it is not recommended anymore as it doesn't nurture understanding of Python itself, thus leaving the user in a limited environment.

Example: Simple plot

Consider the example below where plot() function is used to plot y = sin(x). After that, the axes functions are used to format the axes. At last, show() function is used to display the figure.

from pylab import *

#creating a array of values between
#0 to 10 with a difference of 0.1
x = arange(0, 10, 0.1)
y = sin(x)

#plotting the curve
plot(x, y) 

#formatting axes
xlabel("x")
ylabel("y = sin(x)")
title("Sine wave") 

#displaying the figure
show()

The output of the above code will be:

Pyplot

Example: Adding legend

The example below shows how to add two plots in a single figure.

from pylab import *

#creating a array of values between
#0 to 10 with a difference of 0.1
x = arange(0, 10, 0.1)
y1 = sin(x)
y2 = cos(x)

#plotting curves
plot(x, y1) 
plot(x, y2) 

#formatting axes
xlabel("x")
ylabel("y")
title("Sine vs Cosine") 

#adding legend
legend(['sin(x)', 'cos(x)']) 

#displaying the figure
show()

The output of the above code will be:

Pyplot

Format String

A format string consists of a part for color, marker and line:

fmt = '[marker][line][color]'

Each of them is optional. If not provided, the value from the style cycle is used. Other combinations such as [color][marker][line] are also supported, but note that their parsing may be ambiguous.

A format string can be added to a plot to add more styles in it.

Markers

CharacterDescription
'.' point marker
',' pixel marker
'o' circle marker
'v' triangle_down marker
'^' triangle_up marker
'<' triangle_left marker
'>' triangle_right marker
'1' tri_down marker
'2' tri_up marker
'3' tri_left marker
'4' tri_right marker
'8' octagon marker
's' square marker
'p' pentagon marker
'P' plus (filled) marker
'*' star marker
'h' hexagon1 marker
'H' hexagon2 marker
'+' plus marker
'x' x marker
'X' x (filled) marker
'D' diamond marker
'd' thin_diamond marker
'|' vline marker
'_' hline marker

Line styles

CharacterDescription
'-' solid line style
'--' dashed line style
'-.' dash-dot line style
':' dotted line style

Colors

CharacterDescription
'b' blue
'g' green
'r' red
'c' cyan
'm' magenta
'y' yellow
'k' black
'w' white

Example: Using format string

In the example below, format string is used to add more styles in the plot.

from pylab import *

#creating a array of values between
#0 to 10 with a difference of 0.5
x = arange(0, 10, 0.5)
y1 = sin(x)
y2 = cos(x)

#plotting curves
plot(x, y1, 'o-r') 
plot(x, y2, 'v--b') 

#formatting axes
xlabel("x")
ylabel("y")
title("Sine vs Cosine") 

#adding legend
legend(['sin(x)', 'cos(x)']) 

#displaying the figure
show()

The output of the above code will be:

Pyplot

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