Plot (Big)

Makes MATLAB's line plots much faster.
Updated 16 May 2018

Editor's Note: This file was selected as MATLAB Central Pick of the Week

This simple tool intercepts data going into a plot and reduces it to the smallest possible set that looks identical given the number of pixels available on the screen. It then updates the data as a user zooms or pans. This is useful when a user must plot a very large amount of data and explore it visually.
This works with MATLAB's built-in line plot functions, allowing the functionality of those to be preserved.
Instead of:

plot(t, x);

One could use:

reduce_plot(t, x);

Most plot options, such as multiple series and line properties, can be passed in too, such that 'reduce_plot' is largely a drop-in replacement for 'plot'.

h = reduce_plot(t, x(1, :), 'b:', t, x(2, :), t, x(3, :), 'r--*');

This function works on plots where the "x" data is always increasing, which is the most common, such as for time series.

For more information, see:

>> help LinePlotReducer


>> help reduce_plot

Cite As

Tucker McClure (2024). Plot (Big) (, GitHub. Retrieved .

MATLAB Release Compatibility
Created with R2012b
Compatible with any release
Platform Compatibility
Windows macOS Linux
Find more on Line Plots in Help Center and MATLAB Answers

Community Treasure Hunt

Find the treasures in MATLAB Central and discover how the community can help you!

Start Hunting!

Versions that use the GitHub default branch cannot be downloaded

Version Published Release Notes

Now manages its memory better when figures or axes are reused (with thanks to Jack).

Added support for the new graphics system in R2014b.

Added ability to have multiple LinePlotReducers in a single axes object. Note: this is for convenience; it's fastest to use a single LinePlotReducer for all lines in the axes.

Now allows inputs as combination of rows and columns, like the built-in plot functions. For instance, these all do the same thing:

x = 1:10;
y = [1:10; 2:11];
reduce_plot(x, y);
reduce_plot(x.', y);
reduce_plot(x, y.');
reduce_plot(x.', y.');

Fixed a bug when "taking over" a plot with only a single line. Fixed a bug that caused the final line spec in a series to be ignored.

To view or report issues in this GitHub add-on, visit the GitHub Repository.
To view or report issues in this GitHub add-on, visit the GitHub Repository.