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Introducing Spline Fitting

About Splines in Curve Fitting Toolbox

You can work with splines in Curve Fitting Toolbox™ in several ways.

Using the Curve Fitting app or the fit function you can:

  • Fit cubic spline interpolants to curves or surfaces

  • Fit smoothing splines and shape-preserving cubic spline interpolants to curves (but not surfaces)

  • Fit thin-plate splines to surfaces (but not curves)

The toolbox also contains specific splines functions to allow greater control over what you can create. For example, you can use the csapi function for cubic spline interpolation. Why would you use csapi instead of the fit function 'cubicinterp' option? You might require greater flexibility to work with splines for the following reasons:

  • You want to combine the results with other splines, e.g., by addition.

  • You want vector-valued splines. You can use csapi with scalars, vectors, matrices, and ND-arrays. The fit function only allows scalar-valued splines.

  • You want other types of splines such as ppform, B-form, tensor-product, rational, and stform thin-plate splines.

  • You want to create splines without data.

  • You want to specify breaks, optimize knot placement, and use specialized functions for spline manipulation such as differentiation and integration.

If you require specialized spline functions, see the following sections for an overview of splines, and interactive and programmatic spline fitting.

Spline Overview

The Curve Fitting Toolbox spline functions are a collection of tools for creating, viewing, and analyzing spline approximations of data. Splines are smooth piecewise polynomials that can be used to represent functions over large intervals, where it would be impractical to use a single approximating polynomial.

The spline functionality includes a tool that provides easy access to functions for creating, visualizing, and manipulating splines. The toolbox also contains functions that enable you to evaluate, plot, combine, differentiate, and integrate splines. Because all toolbox functions are implemented in the open MATLAB® language, you can inspect the algorithms, modify the source code, and create your own custom functions.

Key spline features:

  • Tools that let you create, view, and manipulate splines and manage and compare spline approximations

  • Functions for advanced spline operations, including differentiation, integration, break/knot manipulation, and optimal knot placement

  • Support for piecewise polynomial form (ppform) and basis form (B-form) splines

  • Support for tensor-product splines and rational splines (including NURBS)

Interactive Spline Fitting

You can access all spline functions from the splinetool. You can use the tool to:

  • Vary spline parameters and tolerances

  • View and modify data, breaks, knots, and weights

  • View the error of the spline, or the spline's first or second derivative

  • Observe the toolbox commands that generated your spline

  • Create and import data, including built-in instructive data sets, and save splines to the workspace

See splinetool.

Programmatic Spline Fitting

To programmatically fit splines, see Spline Construction for descriptions of types of splines and numerous examples.