# How can I transform a density plot into a stream plot?

I have a table with three columns: x, y and z, where z is a function of x and y. Right now, I have a ListDensityPlot of z (below). Is it possible to plot a stream plot of this data, so that arrows go from small z to big z?

I would like to have something like this (below):

How can I calculate vectors based on the table I have so that I can use ListStreamPlot? Ideally, I would like some function like DensityToStream[{x,y,z}] which takes the table I have and outputs a table that I can use in ListStreamPlot.

Example code (not the plots above):

xvalues = Range[1, 10, 0.1];
yvalues = Range[1, 10, 0.1];
fakedata = Table[0, {i, Length[xvalues]*Length[yvalues]}, {j, 3}];
Do[{
count = (x - 1)*Length[yvalues] + y;
fakedata[[count, 1]] = xvalues[[x]];
fakedata[[count, 2]] = yvalues[[y]];
z = fakedata[[count, 1]]*fakedata[[count, 2]]^2 + fakedata[[count, 1]]^3;
fakedata[[count, 3]] = z;
}, {x, 1, Length[xvalues]}, {y, 1, Length[yvalues]}];

ListDensityPlot[fakedata, PlotRange -> All, PlotLegends -> Automatic]

• An MWE would make it easy for others to test ideas. Aug 3, 2018 at 11:42
• Welcome to Mma.SE. Start by taking the tour now and learning about asking and what's on-topic. Always edit if improvable, show due diligence, give brief context, include minimal working example of your code and data in formatted form. By doing all this you help us to help you and likely you will inspire great answers. The site depends on participation, as you receive give back: vote and answer questions, keep the site useful, be kind, correct mistakes and share what you have learned. Aug 3, 2018 at 20:23

Since you have a regularly spaced grid, you can use the following function listGradientFieldPlot from my website.

The definition of the function is followed by an example:

listGradientFieldPlot[grid_?((Length[Dimensions[#]] == 2) &),
opts : OptionsPattern[]] :=
Module[{img, cont, densityOptions, contourOptions, frameOptions,
plotRangeRule, delX, delY, gridSpacing, gradField, gradNorm, field,
fieldL, rangeCoords, maxNorm,
gridSpacing = (DataRange /. {opts}).{-1, 1};
If[! NumericQ[Norm[gridSpacing]], gridSpacing = {1, 1},
gridSpacing = gridSpacing/Reverse[Dimensions[grid] - 1]];
densityOptions =
Join[FilterRules[{opts},
FilterRules[Options[ListDensityPlot],
Except[{Prolog, Epilog, FrameTicks, PlotLabel, ImagePadding,
GridLines, Mesh, AspectRatio, PlotLabel, PlotRangePadding,
Frame, Axes}]]], {PlotRangePadding -> None, Frame -> None,
Axes -> None, AspectRatio -> Automatic}];
contourOptions =
Join[FilterRules[{opts},
FilterRules[Options[ListContourPlot],
Except[{Prolog, Epilog, FrameTicks, PlotLabel, Background,
ContourShading, Frame, Axes}]]], {Frame -> None, Axes -> None,
delX = (RotateRight[paddedGrid, {0, 1}] -
RotateLeft[paddedGrid, {0, 1}])[[2 ;; -2, 2 ;; -2]]/
gridSpacing[[1]];
delY = (RotateRight[paddedGrid] - RotateLeft[paddedGrid])[[2 ;; -2,
2 ;; -2]]/gridSpacing[[2]];
gradNorm = Sqrt[delX*delX + delY*delY];
MapThread[{#2, #1} &, {Transpose[delY], Transpose[delX]}, 2];
fieldL =
field = First@Cases[{fieldL}, Graphics[__], Infinity];
plotRangeRule = FilterRules[Quiet@AbsoluteOptions[field], PlotRange];
rangeCoords = Transpose[PlotRange /. plotRangeRule];
img = Rasterize[field, "Image"];
cont = If[
MemberQ[{0,
None}, (Contours /. FilterRules[{opts}, Contours])], {},
ListContourPlot[grid, Evaluate@Apply[Sequence, contourOptions]]];
frameOptions =
Join[FilterRules[{opts},
FilterRules[Options[Graphics],
Except[{PlotRangeClipping, PlotRange}]]], {plotRangeRule,
Frame -> True, PlotRangeClipping -> True,
PlotLabel -> Row[{"Maximum field =", maxNorm}]}];
If[Head[fieldL] === Legended, Legended[#, fieldL[[2]]], #] &@
Apply[Show[
Graphics[{Inset[
Show[SetAlphaChannel[img,
"ShadingOpacity" /. {opts} /. {"ShadingOpacity" -> 1}],
AspectRatio -> Full], rangeCoords[[1]], {0, 0},
rangeCoords[[2]] - rangeCoords[[1]]]}], cont,
Evaluate@FilterRules[{opts}, StreamStyle],
Evaluate@FilterRules[{opts}, StreamColorFunction],
Evaluate@FilterRules[{opts}, DataRange],
Evaluate@FilterRules[{opts}, StreamColorFunctionScaling],
Evaluate@FilterRules[{opts}, StreamPoints],
Evaluate@FilterRules[{opts}, StreamScale]], ##] &,
frameOptions]]

grid = Transpose@
Table[(y^2 + (x - 2)^2)^(-1/2) - (y^2 + (x - 1/2)^2)^(-1/2)/
2, {x, -1.57, 3.43, .1}, {y, -1.57, 1.43, .1}];

l1 = listGradientFieldPlot[grid, ColorFunction -> "BlueGreenYellow",
Contours -> 10, ContourStyle -> White, Frame -> True,
FrameLabel -> {"x", "y"}, InterpolationOrder -> 2,
ClippingStyle -> Automatic, Axes -> True, StreamStyle -> Orange,
ImageSize -> 500, DataRange -> {{-1.57, 3.43}, {-1.57, 1.43}}]


The function listGradientFieldPlot takes a scalar potential on a two-dimensional rectangular grid as its first argument, in the form of a list φ. The lengths corresponding to the grid dimensions can be given through the option DataRange → {{xmin, xmax}, {ymin, ymax}}.

The plot contains three elements:

• a contour plot of the potential φ, a colored density plot of the
• gradient field, ∇φ, and
• a stream plot illustrating the field lines of ∇φ (they are everywhere perpendicular to the contour lines of the potential).

Because the potential is given as a list, I could calculate the gradient either from an interpolating function or by using discrete first-order derivatives. In fact, the built-in function DerivativeFilter can be used to calculate directional derivatives of arrays, and it uses interpolation.

Unfortunately, interpolation can introduce artifacts. For example, define a rapidly varying function on a grid by m = Table[(y^2 + (x - 2)^2)^(-1/2), {x, -1.57, 3.43, .1}, {y, -1.57, 1.43, .1}]; and then execute the test cases Table[Graphics@Raster[Abs@DerivativeFilter[m, {1, 0}, InterpolationOrder -> i]], {i, 3, 9, 2}]

This will reveal an increasing number of undesirable ripples. Moreover, DerivativeFilter doesn't allow the padding option "Extrapolated" which is needed to get reasonable derivatives at the boundary of a region.

Therefore, to do the gradient of an array, I decided to calculate derivatives without interpolation by means of a standard finite-difference scheme. This is done in the variables delX and delY, using an auxiliary array that has been padded at the borders using extrapolation.

If your array contains the x and y coordinates too, you'll have to strip them off before passing it to listGradientFieldPlot by doing fakeData[[All,3]].