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SciPy in Python: How to use SciPy for Scientific Computations

with examples

SciPy is a popular library built on top of Numpy extensions with a mixture of functions and mathematical algorithms, that solves scientific, mathematical, and engineering problems. It uses a high-level Python command that visualizes and manipulates data. One important use of SciPy is that it transforms Python sessions into an environment that is efficient for data processing and system prototyping.

SciPy has a myriad of functions that can be called to do different mathematical and scientific computations. It cannot be used without the knowledge of NumPy because it operates on dimensional arrays of the NumPy library. SciPy is preferred to NumPy not only because it is an extension of NumPy, but also because most recent data science features are present in SciPy rather than NumPy.

Let’s begin by listing out some of these functions or sub-packages. They include:

  1. constants: This is used for physical and mathematical constants.
  2. integrate: This is used to solve Ordinary differential equations (ODE) and Integration problems.
  3. cluster: This is used to cluster algorithms.
  4. fftpack: This is used for fast Fourier transform routines.
  5. ndimage: This is used for N-dimensional image processing.
  6. io: This is used for input and output operations.
  7. odr: This is used for orthogonal distance regression.
  8. linalg: This is used for linear regression analysis.
  9. spatial: This is used for spatial data structures and algorithms.
  10. sparse: This is used for sparse matrices and associated routines.
  11. interpolate: This is used for interpolating and smoothing splines.
  12. stats: This is used for statistical distributions and functions.
  13. special: This is used for special functions.

By the end of this tutorial, you will learn how to use scipy to do the most common mathematical and scientific computations using some of the above functions/sub-packages. We begin by installing scipy into your machine. 

Installing SciPy on your Machine

SciPy can be installed in Windows, Linux, Mac.

For Windows, we use pip.

Python3 -m pip install --user numpy scipy 

For Linux,

sudo apt-get install  python-scipy python-numpy

For Mac,

sudo port install py35-scipy py35-numpy

NB: If you have Jupyter Notebook installed on your PC (and by extension Anaconda), you would not need to perform the above steps as scipy comes pre-installed alongside Anaconda.

Next, we will discuss some of the features of SciPy in python used for scientific computation.

  1. File Input/Output package

This package has a variety of functions working with different file formats. Some of these file formats are Wave, Matrix market, TXT, binary format, CSV, and Matlab. One of the regularly used file formats is Matlab and we shall look at an example provided below.

#import necessary libraries
import numpy as np
from scipy import io as sio
#Then, we create a 3x3 dimensional one's array
array = np.ones((3,3))
#store the array in a file using the savemat method
sio.savemat('sample.mat',{'array': array})
#get the data from the stored file using the loadmat method
data = sio.loadmat('sample.mat', struct_as_record=True)
#print the output


array([[1., 1., 1.],
       [1., 1., 1.],
       [1., 1., 1.]])
  1. Special Function Package

As earlier said, scipy.special is that package that contains various functions in mathematics. These functions are exponential, cubic root, lambert, kelvin, parabolic cylinder, Bessel, gamma, permutation and combinations, log sum amongst others. For a further description in the Python console; you can use the following command

#First, we import the scipy function
import scipy as scipy


Help on package scipy.special in scipy:


    Special functions (:mod:`scipy.special`)
    .. module:: scipy.special
    Nearly all of the functions below are universal functions and follow broadcasting and automatic array-looping rules. Exceptions are noted.
    .. seealso::
       `scipy.special.cython_special` -- Typed Cython versions of special functions
  1. Cubic Root Function

This function finds the cube root of numbers. The syntax is written on the Python console as scipy.special.cbrt(x). For example,

#First, we import the scipy cubic root function
from scipy.special import cbrt
#Then, we say for example that we want to find the cube root of 125, 27, and 100 using the cbrt() function
cuberoot = cbrt([125, 27, 1000])
#Then, we print the result
print('The cuberoot of 125, 27 and 1000 are: ', end='')
print(cuberoot, end=' ')


The cuberoot of 125, 27 and 1000 are: [ 5.  3. 10.] respectively

  1. Exponential Function

This function computes the 10**x of an element. For example

from scipy.special import exp10
#Then, we find the exp10 function and then give it a value
exponent= exp10(7)
#Then, we print the result
print('The 10th exponent of 7 is: ', end='')


The 10th exponent of 7 is: 10000000
  1. Permutations and Combinations

For combination, the function is scipy.special.comb(N,k). For example,

#First, we import the SciPy library with the combination package
from scipy.special import comb
#Them, we find the combinations of 6 and 3 using comb(N,k)
combination_result = comb(6,3, exact = False, repetition = True)
#Then, we print the output
print('6C3 = ', end='')
print (combination_result)


6C3 = 56.0

For Permutation

#First, we import the SciPy library with the permutation package
from scipy.special import perm
#Them, we find the permutation of 6 and 3 using comb(N,k)
permutation_result = perm(6,3, exact = True)
#Then, we print the output
print('6P3 = ', end='')
6P3 = 120
  1. Linear Algebra with SciPy

It implements both the BLAS and ATLAS LAPACK libraries but it performs faster than both of them. For example, to calculate the determinant of a 2-dimensional matrix.

#First, we import the SciPy library with linear algebra package
from scipy import linalg
#Also, we import numpy library
import numpy as np
#Then, we define the 2x2 matrix
square_matrix = np.array([ [4,6], [4,8]])
#Then, we pass the values to the det() function to find the determinant of the matrix

Also, for the Inverse matrix; the syntax is scipy.linalg.inv(). For example

#First, we import the SciPy library with linear algebra package
from scipy import linalg
#Also, we import numpy library
import numpy as np
#Then, we define the 2x2 matrix
square_matrix = np.array([ [4,6], [4,8]])
#Then, we pass the values to the inv() function to find the inverse of the matrix
array([[ 1.  , -0.75],
       [-0.5 ,  0.5 ]])

For Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors which is the most common problem to solve using linear algebra. The syntax is scipy.linalg.eig(). For example,

#import the SciPy library with linear algebra package
from scipy import linalg
#Also, we import numpy library
import numpy as np
# define the 2 by 2 matrix
array = np.array([ [4,6], [4,8]])
#Then, we pass the values to the function to find the eigenvectors and eigenvalues of the matrix
eigen_value, eigen_vector = linalg.eig(array)
#Then, we get the eigenvalues
print('The eigenvalues are: ')
print (eigen_value)
#Also, we get the eigenvectors
print('The eigenvectors are: ')
print (eigen_vector)
The eigenvalues are: 
[ 0.70849738+0.j 11.29150262+0.j]

The eigenvectors are: 
[[-0.8767397  -0.6354064 ]
 [ 0.48096517 -0.7721779 ]]
  1. Discrete Fourier Transform DFT

This is a technique used in mathematics to convert spatial data to frequency data. The algorithm used for computing DFT is called the Fast Fourier Transform FFT. FFT is used for multidimensional arrays. For example, we use a wave with a periodic function.

#Import the necessary libraries including matplotlib
%matplotlib inline
from matplotlib import pyplot as plt
import numpy as np 
#Then, we assume a Frequency in terms of Hertz
frequency  =10
#Also, we assume a Sample rate
frequency_sample = 50
time = np.linspace(0, 10, 120, endpoint = False )
amplitude = np.sin(frequency_sample  * 2 * np.pi * time)
plt.plot(time, amplitude)
plt.xlabel ('Time (s)')
plt.ylabel ('Signal Amplitude')


SciPy in Python: How to use SciPy for Scientific Computations

From this, the frequency is 10 Hz and the period is 1/10 seconds. With this wave, we can apply DFT.

from scipy import fftpack
A = fftpack.fft(amplitude)
frequency = fftpack.fftfreq(len(amplitude)) * frequency_sample
plt.stem(frequency, np.abs(A))
plt.xlabel('Frequency (Hz)')
plt.ylabel('Frequency Spectrum Magnitude')


SciPy in Python: How to use SciPy for Scientific Computations

From the output above, the result is a one-dimensional array, and also the input where there are complex values is zero except for two points. We use the DFT to visualize the magnitude of the signal.

  1. Optimization and fit in SciPy

The syntax is scipy.optimize. This provides a meaningful algorithm that is used to minimize curve fittings, multidimensional or scalar, and roof fitting. For example, we look at Scalar function,

#import necessary libraries
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from scipy import optimize
import numpy as np
#define a scalar function to be minimized
def function(a):
       return   a*5 + 2 * np.cos(a)
plt.plot(a, function(a))
print('The optimized function is: ')
#use BFGS algorithm for optimization
optimize.fmin_bfgs(function, 0)


SciPy in Python: How to use SciPy for Scientific Computations
The optimized function is: 
Optimization terminated successfully.
         Current function value: -581537857.204429
         Iterations: 2
         Function evaluations: 51
         Gradient evaluations: 17


The optimization is done with the example above with the help of the gradient descent algorithm taken from the initial point.

  1. Nelder-Mead Algorithm

It provides the most direct form of minimization for a fair behaved function. It is not used for gradient evaluations because it takes longer. For example,

#First, we import the necessary libraries
import numpy as np
from scipy.optimize import minimize
#Then, we define the scalar function
def scaler_function(x):   
    return 2*(1 + x[0])**3
#minimize the scalar function  
optimize.minimize(scaler_function, [1, -1], method="Nelder-Mead")
final_simplex: (array([[-5.88348348e+43, -2.93385718e+43],
       [-3.48931950e+43, -1.73998365e+43],
       [-2.06941187e+43, -1.03193268e+43]]), array([-4.07318008e+131, -8.49673760e+130, -1.77243698e+130]))
           fun: -4.073180080259595e+131
       message: 'Maximum number of function evaluations has been exceeded.'
          nfev: 401
           nit: 204
        status: 1
       success: False
             x: array([-5.88348348e+43, -2.93385718e+43])
  1. Image Processing with SciPy

The syntax is scipy.ndimage. The n in ndimage stands for n dimensional image. It is a submodule of SciPy used mainly in image associated operations. These image processing can provide geometric transformation, image segmentation, features extraction and classification. A package called MISC Package contains prebuilt images used in manipulating images. For example,

#import required libraries including the misc package
from scipy import misc
from matplotlib import pyplot as plt
import numpy as np
#Then, we get ascent image of panda from misc package
panda = misc.ascent()
#Then, we show the image of face


SciPy in Python: How to use SciPy for Scientific Computations

To flip down the image, we input to the Python console,

#To flip Down using scipy misc.face image  
flip_down = np.flipud(misc.ascent())


SciPy in Python: How to use SciPy for Scientific Computations

To rotate images using SciPy,,

#import the necessary libraries
from scipy import ndimage, misc
from matplotlib import pyplot as plt
image = misc.ascent()
#rotation function of scipy for image – image rotated 9 degree
rotate_image = ndimage.rotate(image, 9)


SciPy in Python: How to use SciPy for Scientific Computations
  1. Integration with SciPy- Numerical Integration

The syntax is scipy.integrate which consists of single integration, double, multiple, Romberg quadrate, Simpson’s, and Trapezoidal rule. Let’s say we wish to integrate 15×3

The result is: (-156.0, 1.7319479184152442e-12)

The first value is the integration while the second value is the estimated error is integral since it is a numerical computation. As seen, the error value is substantially low.


In this tutorial, we have introduced all that there is to know under the concept of SciPy including the various sub-features of SciPy and how to apply all of them. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section and I’d do my best to answer them.

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