**matplotlib.pyplot** is a collection of command style functions that make matplotlib work like MATLAB. Each pyplot function makes some change to a figure: e.g., creates a figure, creates a plotting area in a figure, plots some lines in a plotting area, decorates the plot with labels, etc.

In matplotlib.pyplot various states are preserved across function calls so that it keeps track of things like the current figure and plotting area, and the plotting functions are directed to the current axes (please note that "axes" here and in most places in the documentation refers to the axes part of a figure and not the strict mathematical term for more than one axis).

Checkout a very basic example here:

```
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
plt.plot([1, 2, 3, 4])
plt.ylabel('some numbers')
plt.show()
```

You may be wondering why the x-axis ranges from 0-3 and the y-axis from 1-4. If you provide a single list or array to the plot() command, matplotlib assumes it is a sequence of y values, and automatically generates the x values for you. Since python ranges start with 0, the default x vector has the same length as y but starts at 0. Hence the x data are [0,1,2,3].

**plot()** is a versatile command and will take an arbitrary number of arguments. For example, to plot x versus y, you can issue the command:

```
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
plt.plot([1, 2, 3, 4], [1, 4, 9, 16])
plt.ylabel('some numbers')
plt.show()
```

For every x, y pair of arguments, there is an optional third argument which is the format string that indicates the color and line type of the plot. The letters and symbols of the format string are from MATLAB, and you concatenate a color string with a line style string. The default format string is 'b-', which is a solid blue line. For example, to plot the above with red circles, you would issue

```
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
plt.plot([1, 2, 3, 4], [1, 4, 9, 16], 'ro')
plt.ylabel('some numbers')
plt.axis([0, 6, 0, 20])
plt.show()
```

See the **plot()** documentation for a complete list of line styles and format strings. The **axis()** command in the example above takes a list of **[xmin, xmax, ymin, ymax]** and specifies the viewport of the axes.

If **matplotlib** were limited to working with lists, it would be fairly useless for numeric processing. Generally, you will use numpy arrays. In fact, all sequences are converted to numpy arrays internally. The example below illustrates a plotting several lines with different format styles in one command using arrays.

```
import numpy as np
# evenly sampled time at 200ms intervals
t = np.arange(0., 5., 0.2)
# red dashes, blue squares and green triangles
plt.plot(t, t, 'r--', t, t**2, 'bs', t, t**3, 'g^')
plt.show()
```

There are some instances where you have data in a format that lets you access particular variables with strings. For example, with numpy.recarray or pandas.DataFrame.

Matplotlib allows you to provide such an object with the data keyword argument. If provided, then you may generate plots with the strings corresponding to these variables.

```
data = {'a': np.arange(50),
'c': np.random.randint(0, 50, 50),
'd': np.random.randn(50)}
data['b'] = data['a'] + 10 * np.random.randn(50)
data['d'] = np.abs(data['d']) * 100
plt.scatter('a', 'b', c='c', s='d', data=data)
plt.xlabel('entry a')
plt.ylabel('entry b')
plt.show()
```

It is also possible to create a plot using categorical variables. Matplotlib allows you to pass categorical variables directly to many plotting functions. For example:

```
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
names = ['group_a', 'group_b', 'group_c']
plt.figure(1, figsize=(9, 3))
plt.subplot(131)
plt.bar(names, [1,10,100])
plt.subplot(132)
plt.scatter(names, [1,10,100])
plt.subplot(133)
plt.plot(names, [1,10,100])
plt.suptitle('Categorical Plotting')
plt.show()
```

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