Friday, 19 February 2016

A pm3d surface plot

Here is a quick example of visualising a function of two variables using the pm3d "palette-mapped" 3d plot.  It comes from a module I teach on computational techniques and is the end result of a solution of the Laplace equation for the electrical potential, in a square region in which the potential along the upper boundary of the square is held at +100V and is 0V along the other boundaries.  The data, in the file pot.dat, is here.
# set up the terminal to be the interactive wxt display, 
# but with equal width and height
set term wxt size 400,400

# we will be plotting a function of two variables, but we 
# don't want the default surface plot
unset surface

# view from above
set view 0,90

# set the coloured "pm3d" plot (rather than the surface, 
# which we unset above)
set pm3d

# viewing from above, we don't want to have the z-axis
# tick marks shown all bunched up
unset ztics

# now plot, with a title
splot 'pot.dat' title "Potential"
The result, loaded into gnuplot with a load './pot.gpl' command is shown below:


It's not perfect.  With a bit of tweaking with placement, the title could be centrally above the square of the plot and the whitespace more even in the frame, but it visualises the potential quite well.

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