Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

First, I want to say upfront that this question need not dissolve into arguments and discussion. This question can and should have a correct answer, please don't respond with your opinions.

GNUplot is very pervasive in Physics research. Many of the plots appearing in things like PRL and JPB are made in GNUplot. Why is this the case. There are much more modern tools for doing these types of graphs, and from my uninformed position, it appears that this would be easier.

One obvious and relevant first point to make is that GNUplot is free and opensource. I respect this, but do not expect that this is the primary reason.

I am hoping for answers that specify what GNUplot can do that can be achieved in other programs efficiently, say Mathematica. If there are none of these, and the reason is simply tradition/resistance to change, that is also fine, but I expect there must be some specific tasks one wishes to perform.


share|cite|improve this question

closed as not constructive by Alasdair Allan, Noldorin, dF_, j.c., Mana Nov 3 '10 at 15:33

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I have to disagree that this question should have a correct answer that is separate from people's opinions. It might, but I have my doubts. I'll wait and see what happens. – David Z Nov 3 '10 at 7:18
@David Here's hoping. :) – BBischof Nov 3 '10 at 7:22
Your premise is inaccurate in my experience. Of the many physics students and faculty I know, from different universities, I have never met one who uses Gnuplot, except me (but not anymore.) Matlab, Origin, and even Excel are much more prevalent. I also see far more publications with graphs that obviously come from Matlab than Gnuplot. – ptomato Nov 3 '10 at 8:55
Voting to close. Not only is this off topic, it's not a physics-related question. It's going to cause an argument. Let's just not go there! – Alasdair Allan Nov 3 '10 at 10:26
1. Its good software 2. For historical reasons :) – Pratik Deoghare Nov 3 '10 at 12:21

I agree with David and his disagreement.

My experience and personal opinion is that GNUPlot is simpler and quicker for the real time analysis and then u already have the graph in gnuplot.. why would u bother to change it ;)

share|cite|improve this answer
I also agree with David here. Besides, gnuplot is indeed a simple, quick, and highly versatile tool. For most uses it can't be beaten really. – Noldorin Nov 3 '10 at 10:48
And it can be scripted nicely. The output can be TeX as well so you can incorporate is easily in papers... – BandGap Mar 11 '11 at 11:52

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.