python – Getting coordinates of the closest data point on matplotlib plot-ThrowExceptions

Exception or error:

I am using matplotlib with NavigationToolbar2QT. The toolbar is showing the position of the cursor. But I would like that the cursor snaps to the nearest data point (when close enough) or simply show the coordinate of nearest data point. Can that be somehow arranged?

How to solve:

If you are working with large sets of points, I advice you to use CKDtrees:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import numpy as np
import scipy.spatial

points = np.column_stack([np.random.rand(50), np.random.rand(50)])
fig, ax = plt.subplots()
coll = ax.scatter(points[:,0], points[:,1])
ckdtree = scipy.spatial.cKDTree(points)

I refactored kpie's answer here little bit. Once ckdtree is created, you can identify closest points instantly and various kind of information about them with a little effort:

def closest_point_distance(ckdtree, x, y):
    #returns distance to closest point
    return ckdtree.query([x, y])[0]

def closest_point_id(ckdtree, x, y):
    #returns index of closest point
    return ckdtree.query([x, y])[1]

def closest_point_coords(ckdtree, x, y):
    # returns coordinates of closest point
    return[closest_point_id(ckdtree, x, y)]
    # is the same as points

Interactive display of cursor position.
If you want coordinates of the closest point to be displayed on Navigation Toolbar:

def val_shower(ckdtree):
    #formatter of coordinates displayed on Navigation Bar
    return lambda x, y: '[x = {}, y = {}]'.format(*closest_point_coords(ckdtree, x, y))

plt.gca().format_coord = val_shower(ckdtree)

Using events.
If you want another kind of interactivity, you can use events:

def onclick(event):
    if event.inaxes is not None:
        print(closest_point_coords(ckdtree, event.xdata, event.ydata))

fig.canvas.mpl_connect('motion_notify_event', onclick)


The following code will print the coordinates of the dot closest to the mouse when you click.

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import numpy as np
N = 50
x = np.random.rand(N)
y = np.random.rand(N)
fig,ax = plt.subplots()
plt.scatter(x, y)
points = list(zip(x,y))
def distance(a,b):
    return(sum([(k[0]-k[1])**2 for k in zip(a,b)])**0.5)
def onclick(event):
    dists = [distance([event.xdata, event.ydata],k) for k in points]
fig.canvas.mpl_connect('button_press_event', onclick)


You could subclass NavigationToolbar2QT and override the mouse_move handler. The xdata and ydata attributes contain the current mouse position in plot coordinates. You can snap that to the closest data point before passing the event to the base class mouse_move handler.

Full example, with highlighting of the closest point in the plot as a bonus:

import sys

import numpy as np

from matplotlib.backends.qt_compat import QtWidgets
from matplotlib.backends.backend_qt5agg import FigureCanvas, NavigationToolbar2QT
from matplotlib.figure import Figure

class Snapper:
    """Snaps to data points"""

    def __init__(self, data, callback): = data
        self.callback = callback

    def snap(self, x, y):
        pos = np.array([x, y])
        distances = np.linalg.norm( - pos, axis=1)
        dataidx = np.argmin(distances)
        datapos =[dataidx,:]
        self.callback(datapos[0], datapos[1])
        return datapos

class SnappingNavigationToolbar(NavigationToolbar2QT):
    """Navigation toolbar with data snapping"""

    def __init__(self, canvas, parent, coordinates=True):
        super().__init__(canvas, parent, coordinates)
        self.snapper = None

    def set_snapper(self, snapper):
        self.snapper = snapper

    def mouse_move(self, event):
        if self.snapper and event.xdata and event.ydata:
            event.xdata, event.ydata = self.snapper.snap(event.xdata, event.ydata)

class Highlighter:
    def __init__(self, ax): = ax
        self.marker = None
        self.markerpos = None

    def draw(self, x, y):
        """draws a marker at plot position (x,y)"""
        if (x, y) != self.markerpos:
            if self.marker:
                del self.marker
            self.marker =, y, color='yellow')
            self.markerpos = (x, y)

class ApplicationWindow(QtWidgets.QMainWindow):
    def __init__(self):
        self._main = QtWidgets.QWidget()
        layout = QtWidgets.QVBoxLayout(self._main)
        canvas = FigureCanvas(Figure(figsize=(5,3)))
        toolbar = SnappingNavigationToolbar(canvas, self)

        data = np.random.randn(100, 2)
        ax = canvas.figure.subplots()
        ax.scatter(data[:,0], data[:,1])

        self.highlighter = Highlighter(ax)
        snapper = Snapper(data, self.highlighter.draw)

if __name__ == "__main__":
    qapp = QtWidgets.QApplication(sys.argv)
    app = ApplicationWindow()

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