Community Data Science Workshops (Spring 2014)/Saturday May 31st Matplotlib Session

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Visualizing data with Matplotlib and Wiki-bios

In this project, we will explore how to produce clear, informative charts, graphs, and plots with Matplotlib, the most popular toolkit for scientific data visualization in Python.

We'll be focusing on a dataset drawn from Wikipedia and DBpedia, containing the names, birth dates, genders, article creation dates, and number of edits, of over 180,000 Wikipedia biography articles.


  • Get set up to make graphs with Matplotlib
  • Learn the basics of the Matplotlib API and workflow
  • Practice reading the Matplotlib documentation
  • Build a plotting program step by step
  • Learn simple ways to distill the essence of a large data set
  • Explore the art of visualizing data
  • Exercise your creativity by making your own visualization

Set up

If you installed Anaconda, you are good to go. All Windows users have already installed Anaconda.

If you are running OSX, and have not yet installed Anaconda, please do. You can follow these instructions for Windows users, but make sure you select the right version of Anaconda for your system.

On a Linux system, you'll need to install some dependencies (e.g. for Debian-based systems):

sudo apt-get install python-matplotlib python-tk

Download and test the Matplotlib-with-Wiki-bios project

(Estimated time: 10 minutes)

After installing matplotlib, and downloading and unpacking the Wikibios bundle, move into that directory with cd. You can test your installation by running python If matplotlib is install correcting, a chart file named histograms.pdf will appear in the current directory.

Wikibios bundle for all platforms

Example topics to cover in Lecture

  • line charts
  • histograms
  • binning
  • scatter plots
  • heat maps
  • axis labeling
  • legends