[Numpy-discussion] Producing a Histogram When Bins Are Known

Skipper Seabold jsseabold@gmail....
Fri Nov 27 11:57:45 CST 2009

On Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 12:41 PM, Christopher Barker
<Chris.Barker@noaa.gov> wrote:
> Wayne Watson wrote:
>> Yes, I'm just beginning to deal with the contents of NumPy, SciLab, and
>> SciPy. They all have seemed part of one another, but I think I see how
>> they've divided up the game.
> For the record:
> I know this is a bit confusing, particularly for someone used to an
> integrated package like Matlab, etc, but there is a lot of power an
> flexibility gained by the divisions:
> Python: is a general-purpose, extensible programming language
> Numpy: is a set of package of classes, functions, etc that provide
> facilities for numeric computation -- primarily a n-d array class and
> the utilities to use it.
> Matplotlib (MPL): is a plotting package, built on top of numpy -- it was
> originally designed to somewhat mimic the plotting interface of Matlab.
> MPL is the most commonly used plotting package for numpy, but by no
> means the only one.
> Pylab: Is a package that integrates matplotlib and numpy and an
> assortment of other utilities into one namespace, making it more like
> Matlab -- personally, I think you should avoid using it, it makes it a
> bit easier to type code, but harder to know where the heck what you are
> doing is coming from.
> SciPy: Is a broad collection of assorted utilities that facilitate
> scientific computing, built on Numpy -- it is also sometimes used as an
> umbrella term for anything connected to scientific computing with Python
> (i.e. the SciPy conferences)
> These distinctions are a bit confusing (particularly MPL-numpy), because
> MPL includes a number of utility functions that combine computation and
> plotting: like "hist", which both computes a histogram, and plots it as
> bar chart in one call -- it's a convenient way to perform a common
> operation, but it does blur the lines a bit!
> By the way -- there is also potentially a bit of confusion as to how MPL
> uses/interacts with the command line and GUI toolkits. This is because
> MPL can be used with a number of different GUI front-ends (or none), and
> they tend to take over control from the command line. Which brings up to:
> iPython: an enhanced python interactive interpreter command line system.
> It adds many nice features that make using python in interactive mode
> nicer. IN particularly, it adds a "--pylab" mode that helps it play well
> with MPL. You won't regret using it!
>> I thought I'd look through Amazon
>> for books on Python and scientific uses. I found almost all were written
>> by authors outside the US, and none seemed to talk about items like
>> matplotlib.
> FWIW, a book about MPL has just been published -- I don't know any more
> about it, but I'm sure google will tell you.
>> Is there a matplotlib or Pylab mailing list?
> There certainly is:
> https://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/matplotlib-users
> And yes, that is the place for such questions.
> HTH,
> -Chris

Well put, Chris.  It took me a long time get my head around these
distinctions, and then only when others pointed out my errors in
understanding.  This kind of info might be useful to other newcomers
somewhere...  <http://www.scipy.org/History_of_SciPy>?  Thoughts on
posting this on the wiki here?


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