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Discrete distribution as horizontal bar chart

Stacked bar charts can be used to visualize discrete distributions.

This example visualizes the result of a survey in which people could rate their agreement to questions on a five-element scale.

The horizontal stacking is achieved by calling barh() for each category and passing the starting point as the cumulative sum of the already drawn bars via the parameter left.

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

category_names = ['Strongly disagree', 'Disagree',
                  'Neither agree nor disagree', 'Agree', 'Strongly agree']
results = {
    'Question 1': [10, 15, 17, 32, 26],
    'Question 2': [26, 22, 29, 10, 13],
    'Question 3': [35, 37, 7, 2, 19],
    'Question 4': [32, 11, 9, 15, 33],
    'Question 5': [21, 29, 5, 5, 40],
    'Question 6': [8, 19, 5, 30, 38]

def survey(results, category_names):
    results : dict
        A mapping from question labels to a list of answers per category.
        It is assumed all lists contain the same number of entries and that
        it matches the length of *category_names*.
    category_names : list of str
        The category labels.
    labels = list(results.keys())
    data = np.array(list(results.values()))
    data_cum = data.cumsum(axis=1)
    category_colors = plt.get_cmap('RdYlGn')(
        np.linspace(0.15, 0.85, data.shape[1]))

    fig, ax = plt.subplots(figsize=(9.2, 5))
    ax.set_xlim(0, np.sum(data, axis=1).max())

    for i, (colname, color) in enumerate(zip(category_names, category_colors)):
        widths = data[:, i]
        starts = data_cum[:, i] - widths
        ax.barh(labels, widths, left=starts, height=0.5,
                label=colname, color=color)
        xcenters = starts + widths / 2

        r, g, b, _ = color
        text_color = 'white' if r * g * b < 0.5 else 'darkgrey'
        for y, (x, c) in enumerate(zip(xcenters, widths)):
            ax.text(x, y, str(int(c)), ha='center', va='center',
    ax.legend(ncol=len(category_names), bbox_to_anchor=(0, 1),
              loc='lower left', fontsize='small')

    return fig, ax

survey(results, category_names)


The use of the following functions, methods, classes and modules is shown in this example:

import matplotlib


<function legend at 0x7fb11b1627b8>

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