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Contour graph of a matrix



A contour graph displays isolines of matrix Z. Label the contour lines using clabel.

contour(Z) draws a contour plot of matrix Z, where Z is interpreted as heights with respect to the x-y plane. Z must be at least a 2-by-2 matrix. The number of contour levels and the values of the contour levels are chosen automatically based on the minimum and maximum values of Z. The ranges of the x- and y-axis are [1:n] and [1:m], where [m,n] = size(Z).

contour(Z,n) draws a contour plot of matrix Z with n contour levels.

contour(Z,v) draws a contour plot of matrix Z with contour lines at the data values specified in vector v. The number of contour levels is equal to length(v). To draw a single contour of level i, use contour(Z,[i i]).

contour(X,Y,Z), contour(X,Y,Z,n), and contour(X,Y,Z,v) draw contour plots of Z. X and Y specify the x- and y-axis limits. When X and Y are matrices, they must be the same size as Z, in which case they specify a surface, as defined by the surf function.

If X or Y is irregularly spaced, contour calculates contours using a regularly spaced contour grid, then transforms the data to X or Y.

contour(...,LineSpec) draws the contours using the line type and color specified by LineSpec. contour ignores marker symbols.

[C,h] = contour(...) returns the contour matrix C (see contourc) and a handle to a contourgroup object. clabel uses the contour matrix C to create the labels. (See descriptions of contourgroup object properties.)

Backward Compatible Version

[C,h] = contour('v6',...) returns the contour matrix C (see contourc) and a vector of handles to graphics objects. clabel uses the contour matrix C to create the labels. contour creates patch graphics objects unless you specify a LineSpec, in which case contour creates line graphics objects.

See Plot Objects and Backward Compatibility for more information.


If you do not specify the LineSpec argument, the figure colormap (colormap) and the color limits (caxis) control the color of the contour lines. In this case the contour function creates patch objects to implement the contour plot.

When you specify the LineSpec argument, the contour function creates line object to implement the contour plot. In this case, contour lines are not mapped to colors in the figure colormap, but are colored using the colors defined in the axes ColorOrder property.

Use contourgroup object properties to control the contour plot appearance.

The following diagram illustrates the parent-child relationship in contour plots.


Contour Plot of a Function

To view a contour plot of the function

over the range -2 x 2, -2 y 3, create matrix Z using the statements

Then, generate a contour plot of Z.

Smoothing Contour Data

You can use interp2 to create smoother contours. Also set the contour label text BackgroundColor to a light yellow and the EdgeColor to light gray.

Setting the Axis Limits on Contour Plots

Suppose, for example, your data represents a region that is 1000 meters in the x dimension and 3000 meters in the y dimension. You could use the following statements to set the axis limits correctly:

See Also

contour3, contourc, contourf, contourslice

See Contourgroup Properties for poperty descriptions

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