Creating Effective Plots from Your Math Software

Written By: Dave Martin
  • Math Software
  • 5/1/2019
  • Read Time : 3 min.
Stock image of a hand creating a bar graph.

Powerful math software needs to do more than just execute calculations accurately. It should also help you visualize and communicate your results effectively. That’s why the Chart Component in PTC Mathcad Prime is so exciting. It can create beautiful 2D data plots, with enhanced ability to configure and control everything about their appearance.

To demonstrate what the Chart Component can do, I’m going to re-create a plot I created for an earlier article. In one of my March Madness articles, I analyzed the Final Four by seed and region. Here is the plot I created:

Example of a plot created in older versions of PTC Mathcad. 

You’ll notice that my axes are labelled with the columns of the source matrix. I created a Text Box to explain the colors and dragged it on top of the plot. Let’s see how quickly and easily I can improve upon my previous work.

(By the way, if you’re used to creating XY Plots in Prime 4.0 and earlier versions, don’t worry, that’s still there. The new Chart Component just provides a more powerful alternative.) 

I’ll open my worksheet in PTC Mathcad Prime. To insert a new plot, simply click the Chart Component utility, conveniently located on the Math tab.

The chart is created on my worksheet. At the top, I enter my inputs. If you want multiple traces, then you use a vector index (looks like a subscript) when listing out the Y plots. I want to use the same X-axis for all the traces, so I simply typed ‘X :=’ and what I wanted to use. As soon as you specify at least one X and one Y, your plot starts to take form.

Starting a new plot in PTC Mathcad. 

Here are all four of my Y-axis traces as defined in the previous article:

Example of xy axis labels in older versions of PTC Mathcad. 

I no longer need to see my input, so I will collapse that section:

Collapsing (hiding) data on a plot in PTC Mathcad. 

Now it’s time to make it pretty. I double click on the chart. This opens the editor, which is incredibly intuitive. You can walk through the tabs and controls, and the preview in the main window updates immediately.

Chart editor in newer versions of PTC Mathcad. 

First, I’ll configure my title:

Adding a title to a chart in PTC Mathcad. 

I can control the location, font, color, size, style, border, and background. You’ll see that you can configure these same items and more throughout the editor.

Next, I like my traces to “pop,” so I’ll configure those next. Although I didn’t use these options in my final product, here you can see where I added symbols to my data points and filled in the area under the graph:

Adding color under a curve in PTC Mathcad. 

After I change the trace colors, I add a legend. I position it to the side of my plot after changing the labels for each trace:

Adding a legend to a plot in PTC Mathcad.

 

 Labeling axes on a chart in PTC Mathcad.

Lastly, I specify the ranges for my axes:

 Specifying ranges for data plotted in PTC Mathcad.

Here is my final image, ready to be placed in a document, article, or presentation:

 The old plot updated.

 

Looks much better, doesn’t it?

This new Chart Component and its editor are easy to learn and fun to play with. This article only scratches the surface of what you can do in PTC Mathcad with plotting. There’s more capability on the Axes and Charts tabs for making your plots look exactly the way you want. The more attractive you’re able to present your data, the better you’ll communicate your points to your audience.

 

Download PTC Mathcad Express free.
Tags:
  • Math Software

About the Author

Dave Martin

Dave Martin is a former Creo, Windchill, and Mathcad instructor and consultant. After leaving PTC, he was the Creo specialist for Amazon; and a mechanical engineer, Creo administrator, and Windchill administrator for Amazon Prime Air. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and currently works as an avionics engineer for Blue Origin. 


Martin is the author of the books Design Intent in Creo Parametric and Top Down Design in Creo Parametric--both available at www.amazon.com. He can be reached at dmartin@creowindchill.com.