An introduction to seaborn

Seaborn is a library for making attractive and informative statistical graphics in Python. It is built on top of matplotlib and tightly integrated with the PyData stack, including support for numpy and pandas data structures and statistical routines from scipy and statsmodels.

Some of the features that seaborn offers are

Seaborn aims to make visualization a central part of exploring and understanding data. The plotting functions operate on dataframes and arrays containing a whole dataset and internally perform the necessary aggregation and statistical model-fitting to produce informative plots. If matplotlib “tries to make easy things easy and hard things possible”, seaborn tries to make a well-defined set of hard things easy too.

The plotting functions try to do something useful when called with a minimal set of arguments, and they expose a number of customizable options through additional parameters. Some of the functions plot directly into a matplotlib axes object, while others operate on an entire figure and produce plots with several panels. In the latter case, the plot is drawn using a Grid object that links the structure of the figure to the structure of the dataset in an abstract way.

Because seaborn uses matplotlib, the graphics can be further tweaked using matplotlib tools and rendered with any of the matplotlib backends to generate publication-quality figures. Seaborn can also be used to target web-based graphics through the mpld3 and Bokeh libraries.

Seaborn should be thought of as a complement to matplotlib, not a replacement for it. When using seaborn, it is likely that you will often invoke matplotlib functions directly to draw simpler plots already available through the pyplot namespace. Further, while the seaborn functions aim to make plots that are reasonably “production ready” (including extracting semantic information from Pandas objects to add informative labels), full customization of the figures will require a sophisticated understanding of matplotlib objects.

For more detailed information and copious examples of the syntax and resulting plots, you can check out the example gallery, tutorial or API reference.