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Gnuplot in Action: Understanding Data with Graphs Paperback – August 28, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1933988399 ISBN-10: 1933988398 Edition: 1st

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Gnuplot in Action: Understanding Data with Graphs + gnuplot Cookbook + GNU Octave Beginner's Guide
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Manning Publications; 1 edition (August 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933988398
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933988399
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #340,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Philipp K. Janert is Chief Consultant at Principal Value, LLC. He has been a gnuplot user for more than 15 years and regards it as one of the indispensable tools in his toolbox. He has worked for small start-ups and in large corporate environments, both in the US and overseas, including several years at, where he initiated and led several projects to improve Amazon's order fulfillment processes. Philipp K. Janert has written about software and software development for the O'Reilly Network, IBM developerWorks, IEEE Software, and Linux Magazine. He holds a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Washington. Visit his website at

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
Excellent tutorial and reference book.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning gnuplot.
Ronald C. Pacanowski
It is clearly written, well-organized, and easy to understand.
Darryl Pace

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Boris Veytsman on October 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have been using Gnuplot for more than twelve years, so I thought the
author could not tell me anything I did not know. I was completely
wrong. As it turned out, I did not know how to use color palettes
efficiently to visualize a structure in complex data.

Gnuplot became the tool of choice for many scientists and engineers.
It combines a powerful language, an intuitive and simple command
interface, publication quality graphics and the ability to quickly
generate many different plots for data exploration. It is free and
easily integrated with other programs (LaTeX, Octave, Maxima to name a
few). This book is a long awaited "Gnuplot bible" - a must for
anybody seriously working with numerical data. It is very well
written, the examples are carefully chosen and explained. It is
nicely typeset. The book is a pleasure to read or browse, which
becomes progressively rare for technical literature.

The book does not require a pre-existing knowledge of Gnuplot, and can
be used as a textbook for self-teaching or maybe as a part of a course
of data analysis and visualization. Nevertheless, it contains many
tips and tricks interesting not only for a novice, but also for a
seasoned user.

The book also contains a treatise on data graphing "in general", not
related specifically to Gnuplot. The principles discussed there are
sound, and could be of a general interest.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bas Vodde on October 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
Gnuplot is a small program that I always find on unix systems I work with. Every now and then, I start it (mostly by accident) and then I'm unable to do anything with it. It has an interesting name, but... as someone who rarely needs to draw graphs, I never had the urge to study it at all.

When I saw Gnuplot in action, I got interested though. A whole book on this 'small' tool which I don't know anything about. So, I started reading and was amazed about the things you can do with gnuplot. It is an incredibly powerful tool for drawing graphs and analyzing data. The book didn't cause me to suddenly draw more graphs, but I do know which tool to use and how to use it when I *do* need to analyze data.

The book consists of four different parts. The first part is called Basics and covers exactly that. It explains how to draw simple graphs and how to work with data. The second part is called Polishing and takes the basics further and shows how to draw graphs that look good.

Part three probably surprised me much -- called Advanced Gnuplot. Chapter 8 discusses how to draw 3d graphs and chapter 9 discusses how to use color in the graphs. The examples the author uses are really impressive (and luckily, the book has some color pages to show the result). Chapter 12 reminds us that gnuplot is in the spirit of unix tools and shows how to script it and how to combine it with other applications. Part four, the last part, covers graphical analysis of data.

I was positively surprised about the book. It was well written, so well that even a person who only started gnuplot by accident could understand it. And, already very early in the book is demonstrates the usefulness of gnuplot in real life.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Darryl Pace on February 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm excited about Gnuplot as a graphing tool and about "Gnuplot In Action" as a guidebook on how to effectively use Gnuplot to produce the graphs I need in the work I do.

For a couple of years I used and experienced the limitations of several plotting software products. The primary limitation of the products was their inability to handle very large data sets. I found Gnuplot via google, and it set me free, as far as plotting data sets of seemingly any size. My only beef with it was not with the Gnuplot product itself, but with its documentation. I found the Gnuplot docs and online help pages to be a little difficult to decipher. Then along came the book, "Gnuplot In Action". Problem solved.

This book is great.

It is thorough and covers all aspects of Gnuplot.
It is clearly written, well-organized, and easy to understand.
It will open up a world of graphing possibilities to the Gnuplot least, that's what it did for me. It shed light on the little I understood about Gnuplot before reading the book, and introduced me to many additional Gnuplot capabilities I was unaware of.

Plain and simple: if you use Gnuplot and would like to understand it better, this book is for you. If you are looking for an excellent plotting tool -- one that is highly configurable and can easily handle millions of data points, then download Gnuplot and get this book. If you need to do graphical analysis and/or produce publication-quality graphs, Gnuplot is the tool for you and "Gnuplot in Action" is the book that can shed light on how to achieve those goals using Gnuplot software.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gregg Silk on June 18, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Considering this is the only Gnuplot reference available, it needs a "Cookbook" chapter covering essentials like file types, file formats, workflow, extensions, backslashes, and quotes. In short, there is nothing here to tell you why Gnuplot is not reading your data file. There are a couple pages of generalities that could have been omitted in favor of something more specific. Considering that many users will be importing data that they need to clean, this is a critical oversight. If you are using Gnuplot because it's already installed and being used in your department, this is a wonderful book. But apparently the authors barely considered other scenarios.
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