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I need to draw a graph of measurements of time for a ball to drop on an inclined plane, with error bars, along with lines of best and worst fit. The problem is that I need to do this on the computer and I am unsure about what graphing package I can use to do this and how to go about doing it. I have access to Wolfram Mathematica 7, but I'm unsure about graphing points with uncertainties.

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I'm not sure that this a great topic for Physics.SE (might be better on Super User as it is a question about the choice of software tools), and I am certain that if we are going to keep it it should be CW like the book resources. Thoughts from the commentariat? – dmckee Sep 17 '11 at 16:57
Aside: "worst fit"?!? Perhaps you mean the limits in which the fit is reasonable. – dmckee Sep 17 '11 at 16:58
@dmckee, Yes by worst fit I meant the most extreme lines that still satisfy the uncertainties, i.e. pass through the error bars – RayQuang Sep 17 '11 at 17:09
up vote 2 down vote accepted

In particle physics the core tool for this purpose these days is ROOT (a few years back there were still a significant number of people using PAW (part of CERNLIB)). Both of these choices suffer somewhat from being big, heavy tools to install just to get some graphing done---we use them because they are primarily the environments in which we did analysis.

A lighter and less specific (but still surprisingly capable) tool is gnuplot.

I've also seen a lot of activity on Stack Overflow from people using python based tools like scipy for plotting. ROOT also provides python bindings.

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I whole heartedly second dmckee's answer here. I've not heard of Root before (thanks for giving me the heads up) but I use scipy quite regularly. If you don't want to have to deal with installing software, I recommend using sagemath's notebook server. You can use any scipy/matplotlib stuff there for free ( – AdamRedwine Sep 17 '11 at 17:39

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