# Plotting data from a CSV file

A common format to export and distribute datasets is the Comma-Separated Values (CSV) format. For example, spreadsheet applications allow us to export a CSV from a working sheet, and some databases also allow for CSV data export. Additionally, it’s a common format to distribute datasets on the Web.

In this example, we’ll be plotting the evolution of the world’s population divided by continents, between 1950 and 2050 (of course they are predictions), using a new type of graph: **bars stacked**.

Using the data available at http://www.xist.org/earth/pop_continent.aspx (that fetches data from the official UN data at http://esa.un.org/unpp/index.asp), we have prepared the following CSV file:

Continent,1950,1975,2000,2010,2025,2050

Africa,227270,418765,819462,1033043,1400184,1998466

Asia,1402887,2379374,3698296,4166741,4772523,5231485

Europe,547460,676207,726568,732759,729264,691048

Latin America,167307,323323,521228,588649,669533,729184

Northern America,171615,242360,318654,351659,397522,448464

Oceania,12807,21286,31160,35838,42507,51338

In the first line, we can find the header with a description of what the data in the columns represent. The other lines contain the continent’s name and its population (in thousands) for the given years.

In the first line, we can find the header with a description of what the data in the columns represent. The other lines contain the continent’s name and its population (in thousands) for the given years.

There are several ways to parse a CSV file, for example:

- NumPy’s
*loadtxt()*(what we are going to use here) - Matplotlib’s
*mlab.csv2rec()* - The
*csv*module (in the standard library)

but we decided to go with loadtxt() because it’s very powerful (and it’s what Matplotlib is standardizing on).

Let’s look at how we can plot it then:

# for file opening made easier

from __future__ import with_statement

We need this because we will use the with statement to read the file.

# numpy

import numpy as np

NumPy is used to load the CSV and for its useful array data type.

# matplotlib plotting module

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# matplotlib colormap module

import matplotlib.cm as cm

# needed for formatting Y axis

from matplotlib.ticker import FuncFormatter

# Matplotlib font manager

import matplotlib.font_manager as font_manager

In addition to the classic pyplot module, we need other Matplotlib submodules:

*cm (color map)*: Considering the way we’re going to prepare the plot, we need to specify the color map of the graphical elements*FuncFormatter*: We will use this to change the way the Y-axis labels are displayed*font_manager*: We want to have a legend with a smaller font, and font_manager allows us to do that

def billions(x, pos):

"""Formatter for Y axis, values are in billions"""

return '%1.fbn' % (x*1e-6)

This is the function that we will use to format the Y-axis labels. Our data is in thousands. Therefore, by dividing it by one million, we obtain values in the order of billions. The function is called at every label to draw, passing the label value and the position.

# bar width

width = .8

As said earlier, we will plot bars, and here we defi ne their width.

The following is the parsing code. We know that it’s a bit hard to follow (the data preparation code is usually the hardest one) but we will show how powerful it is.

# open CSV file

with open('population.csv') as f:

The function we’re going to use, *NumPy loadtxt()*, is able to receive either a filename or a file descriptor, as in this case. We have to open the file here because we have to strip the header line from the rest of the file and set up the data parsing structures.

# read the first line, splitting the years

years = map(int, f.readline().split(',')[1:])

Here we read the first line, the header, and extract the years. We do that by calling the *split()* function and then mapping the *int()* function to the resulting list, from the second element onwards (as the first one is a string).

# we prepare the dtype for exacting data; it's made of:

# <1 string field> <len(years) integers fields>

dtype = [('continents', 'S16')] + [('', np.int32)]*len(years)

NumPy is flexible enough to allow us to define new data types. Here, we are creating one ad hoc for our data lines: a string (of maximum 16 characters) and as many integers as the length of *years* list. Also note how the fi rst element has a *name*, *continents*, while the last integers have none: we will need this in a bit.

# we load the file, setting the delimiter and the dtype above

y = np.loadtxt(f, delimiter=',', dtype=dtype)

With the new data type, we can actually call *loadtxt()*. Here is the description of the parameters:

*f*: This is the file descriptor. Please note that it now contains all the lines except the first one (we’ve read above) which contains the headers, so no data is lost.*delimiter*: By default, loadtxt() expects the delimiter to be spaces, but since we are parsing a CSV file, the separator is comma.*dtype*: This is the data type that is used to apply to the text we read. By default, loadtxt() tries to match against float values

# "map" the resulting structure to be easily accessible:

# the first column (made of string) is called 'continents'

# the remaining values are added to 'data' sub-matrix

# where the real data are

y = y.view(np.dtype([('continents', 'S16'),

('data', np.int32, len(years))]))

Here we’re using a trick: we *view* the resulting data structure as made up of two parts, *continents* and* data*. It’s similar to the dtype that we defined earlier, but with an important difference. Now, the integer’s values are mapped to a field name, data. This results in the column continents with all the continents names,and the matrix *data* that contains the year’s values for each row of the file.

data = y['data']continents = y['continents']

We can separate the* data* and the *continents* part into two variables for easier usage in the code.

# prepare the bottom array

bottom = np.zeros(len(years))

We prepare an array of zeros of the same length as *years*. As said earlier, we plot stacked bars, so each dataset is plot over the previous ones, thus we need to know where the bars below finish. The *bottom* array keeps track of this, containing the height of bars already plotted.

# for each line in data

for i in range(len(data)):

Now that we have our information in data, we can loop over it.

# create the bars for each element, on top of the previous bars

bt = plt.bar(range(len(data[i])), data[i], width=width,

color=cm.hsv(32*i), label=continents[i],

bottom=bottom)

and create the stacked bars. Some important notes:

- We select the the i-th row of data, and plot a bar according to its element’s size (data[i]) with the chosen width.
- As the bars are generated in different loops, their colors would be all the same. To avoid this, we use a color map (in this case
*hsv*), selecting a different color at each iteration, so the sub-bars will have different colors. - We label each bar set with the relative continent’s name (useful for the legend)
- As we have said, they are stacked bars. In fact, every iteration adds a piece of the global bars. To do so, we need to know where to start drawing the bar from (the lower limit) and bottom does this. It contains the value where to start drowing the current bar.

# update the bottom array

bottom += data[i]

We update the* bottom* array. By adding the current data line, we know what the bottom line will be to plot the next bars on top of it.

# label the X ticks with years

plt.xticks(np.arange(len(years))+width/2,

[int(year) for year in years])

We then add the tick’s labels, the* years *elements, right in the middle of the bar.

# some information on the plot

plt.xlabel('Years')

plt.ylabel('Population (in billions)')

plt.title('World Population: 1950 - 2050 (predictions)')

Add some information to the graph.

# draw a legend, with a smaller font

plt.legend(loc='upper left',

prop=font_manager.FontProperties(size=7))

We now draw a legend in the upper-left position with a small font (to better fit the empty space).

# apply the custom function as Y axis formatter

plt.gca().yaxis.set_major_formatter(FuncFormatter(billions)

Finally, we change the Y-axis label formatter, to use the custom formatting function that we defined earlier.

The result is the next screenshot where we can see the composition of the world population divided by continents:

In the preceding screenshot, the whole bar represents the total world population, and the sections in each bar tell us about how much a continent contributes to it. Also observe how the custom color map works: from bottom to top, we have represented Africa in red, Asia in orange, Europe in light green, Latin America in green, Northern America in light blue, and Oceania in blue (barely visible as the top of the bars).

# Plotting extrapolated data using curve fitting

While plotting the CSV values, we have seen that there were some columns representing predictions of the world population in the coming years. We’d like to show how to obtain such predictions using the mathematical process of *extrapolation* with the help of *curve fitting*.

**Curve fitting** is the process of constructing a curve (a mathematical function) that better fits to a series of data points.

This process is related to other two concepts:

*interpolation*: A method of constructing new data points**within**the range of a known set of points*extrapolation*: A method of constructing new data points**outside**a known set of points

The results of *extrapolation* are subject to a greater degree of uncertainty and are influenced a lot by the fitting function that is used.

So it works this way:

- First, a known set of measures is passed to the curve fitting procedure that computes a function to approximate these values
- With this function, we can compute additional values that are not present in the original dataset

Let’s first approach curve fitting with a simple example:

# Numpy and Matplotlib

import numpy as np

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

These are the classic imports.

# the known points set

data = [[2,2],[5,0],[9,5],[11,4],[12,7],[13,11],[17,12]]

This is the data we will use for curve fitting. They are the points on a plane (so each has a X and a Y component)

# we extract the X and Y components from previous points

x, y = zip(*data)

We aggregate the X and Y components in two distinct lists.

# plot the data points with a black cross

plt.plot(x, y, 'kx')

Then plot the original dataset as a black cross on the Matplotlib image.

# we want a bit more data and more fine grained for

# the fitting functions

x2 = np.arange(min(x)-1, max(x)+1, .01)

We prepare a new array for the X values because we wish to have a wider set of values (one unit on the right and one on to the left of the original list) and a fine grain to plot the fitting function nicely.

# lines styles for the polynomials

styles = [':', '-.', '--']

To differentiate better between the polynomial lines, we now define their *styles* list.

# getting style and count one at time

for d, style in enumerate(styles):

Then we loop over that list by also considering the item count.

# degree of the polynomial

deg = d + 1

We define the actual polynomial degree.

# calculate the coefficients of the fitting polynomial

c = np.polyfit(x, y, deg)

Then compute the coefficients of the fitting polynomial whose general format is:

c[0]*x**deg + c[1]*x**(deg – 1) + ... + c[deg]# we evaluate the fitting function against x2

y2 = np.polyval(c, x2)

Here, we generate the new values by evaluating the fitting polynomial against the x2 array.

# and then we plot it

plt.plot(x2, y2, label="deg=%d" % deg, linestyle=style)

Then we plot the resulting function, adding a label that indicates the degree of the polynomial and using a different style for each line.

# show the legend

plt.legend(loc='upper left')

We then show the legend, and the final result is shown in the next screenshot:

Here, the polynomial with degree=1 is drawn as a dotted blue line, the one with degree=2 is a dash-dot green line, and the one with degree=3 is a dashed red line.

We can see that the higher the degree, the better is the fit of the function against the data.

Let’s now revert to our main intention, trying to provide an extrapolation for population data. First a note: we take the values for 2010 as real data and not predictions (well, we are quite near to that year) else we have very few values to create a realistic extrapolation.

Let’s see the code:

# for file opening made easier

from __future__ import with_statement

# numpy

import numpy as np

# matplotlib plotting module

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# matplotlib colormap module

import matplotlib.cm as cm

# Matplotlib font manager

import matplotlib.font_manager as font_manager

# bar width

width = .8

# open CSV file

with open('population.csv') as f:

# read the first line, splitting the years

years = map(int, f.readline().split(',')[1:])

# we prepare the dtype for exacting data; it's made of:

# <1 string field> <6 integers fields>

dtype = [('continents', 'S16')] + [('', np.int32)]*len(years)

# we load the file, setting the delimiter and the dtype above

y = np.loadtxt(f, delimiter=',', dtype=dtype)

# "map" the resulting structure to be easily accessible:

# the first column (made of string) is called 'continents'

# the remaining values are added to 'data' sub-matrix

# where the real data are

y = y.view(np.dtype([('continents', 'S16'),

('data', np.int32, len(years))]))

# extract fields

data = y['data']continents = y['continents']

This is the same code that is used for the CSV example (reported here for completeness).

x = years[:-2]x2 = years[-2:]

We are dividing the years into two groups: before and after 2010. This translates to split the last two elements of the *years* list.

What we are going to do here is prepare the plot in two phases:

- First, we plot the data we consider certain values
- After this, we plot the data from the UN predictions next to our extrapolations

# prepare the bottom array

b1 = np.zeros(len(years)-2)

We prepare the array (made of zeros) for the bottom argument of *bar()*.

# for each line in data

for i in range(len(data)):

# select all the data except the last 2 values

d = data[i][:-2]

For each *data* line, we extract the information we need, so we remove the last two values.

# create bars for each element, on top of the previous bars

bt = plt.bar(range(len(d)), d, width=width,

color=cm.hsv(32*(i)), label=continents[i],

bottom=b1)

# update the bottom array

b1 += d

Then we plot the bar, and update the *bottom* array.

# prepare the bottom array

b2_1, b2_2 = np.zeros(2), np.zeros(2)

We need two arrays because we will display two bars for the same year—one from the CSV and the other from our fitting function.

# for each line in data

for i in range(len(data)):

# extract the last 2 values

d = data[i][-2:]

Again, for each line in the data matrix, we extract the last two values that are needed to plot the bar for CSV.

# select the data to compute the fitting function

y = data[i][:-2]

Along with the other values needed to compute the fitting polynomial.

# use a polynomial of degree 3

c = np.polyfit(x, y, 3)

Here, we set up a polynomial of degree 3; there is no need for higher degrees.

# create a function out of those coefficients

p = np.poly1d(c)

This method constructs a polynomial starting from the coefficients that we pass as parameter.

# compute p on x2 values (we need integers, so the map)

y2 = map(int, p(x2))

We use the polynomial that was defined earlier to compute its values for x2. We also map the resulting values to integer, as the *bar()* function expects them for height.

# create bars for each element, on top of the previous bars

bt = plt.bar(len(b1)+np.arange(len(d)), d, width=width/2,

color=cm.hsv(32*(i)), bottom=b2_1)

We draw a bar for the data from the CSV. Note how the *width* is half of that of the other bars. This is because in the same width we will draw the two sets of bars for a better visual comparison.

# create the bars for the extrapolated values

bt = plt.bar(len(b1)+np.arange(len(d))+width/2, y2,

width=width/2, color=cm.bone(32*(i+2)),

bottom=b2_2)

Here, we plot the bars for the extrapolated values, using a dark color map so that we have an even better separation for the two datasets.

# update the bottom array

b2_1 += d

b2_2 += y2

We update both the *bottom* arrays.

# label the X ticks with years

plt.xticks(np.arange(len(years))+width/2,

[int(year) for year in years])

We add the years as ticks for the X-axis.

# draw a legend, with a smaller font

plt.legend(loc='upper left',

prop=font_manager.FontProperties(size=7))

To avoid a very big legend, we used only the labels for the data from the CSV, skipping the interpolated values. We believe it’s pretty clear what they’re referring to. Here is the screenshot that is displayed on executing this example:

The conclusion we can draw from this is that the United Nations uses a different function to prepare the predictions, especially because they have a continuous set of information, and they can also take into account other environmental circumstances while preparing such predictions.

# Tools using Matplotlib

Given that it’s has an easy and powerful API, Matplotlib is also used inside other programs and tools when plotting is needed. We are about to present a couple of these tools:

- NetworkX
- Mpmath