How to visualize/edit a big matrix as a table?



Is it possible to visualize/edit a big matrix as a table ? I often end up exporting/copying big tables to Excel for seeing them, but I would prefer to stay in Mathematica and have a similar view as in Excel. Note that I'm looking for a non commercial solution. Thanks


Posted 2012-04-03T13:35:24.667

Reputation: 10 549



Based on the approach of F'x this is a version aimed rather at large arrays. It should perform reasonably well independent of the array size and lets one edit the given variable directly. Performance suffers only from the maximal number of rows and columns to be shown, which can be controlled with the second argument. I did choose to use the "usual" syntax for controllers with a Dynamic wrapper, which basically just serves as a Hold in the function definition pattern. With the Interpretation-wrapper it will evaluate to just the array it shows. There are a lot of possible improvements, so everyone is welcome to make such improvements. Here is the code:

editMatrix[Dynamic[m_], maxfields_: {10, 10}] := 
  With[{maxrows = Min[maxfields[[1]], Length[m]], 
    maxcols = 
     If[(Depth[m] - 1) == 2, Min[maxfields[[2]], Length[m[[1]]]], 1]},
    Panel[DynamicModule[{rowoffset = 0, coloffset = 0}, 
      Grid[{{If[Length@m > maxrows, 
           Dynamic[rowoffset], {Length[m] - maxrows, 0, 1}]], 
           With[{x = i, y = j}, 
            Switch[{i, j}, {0, 0}, Spacer[0], {0, _}, 
             Dynamic[y + coloffset], {_, 0}, 
             Dynamic[x + rowoffset], _, 
             If[(Depth[m] - 1) == 2, 
              InputField[Dynamic[m[[x + rowoffset, y + coloffset]
               FieldSize -> 5], 
              InputField[Dynamic[m[[x + rowoffset]]], FieldSize -> 5]
         {i, 0, maxrows}, {j, 0, maxcols}]]}, {Spacer[0], 
         If[Length@First@m > maxcols, 
          Slider[Dynamic[coloffset], {0, Length[m[[1]]] - maxcols, 

You can test it with, e.g.:

a = RandomReal[1, {1000, 300}];

editMatrix[Dynamic[a], {10, 6}]

Mathematica graphics

This will confirm that a will actually be changed when editing the corresponding InputField:

Dynamic[a[[1, 1]]]

Albert Retey

Posted 2012-04-03T13:35:24.667

Reputation: 22 455

This is great ! Thanks to you and F'x – faysou – 2012-04-04T12:40:24.360

Nice. I've added code to use sliders only when necessary. – celtschk – 2012-04-05T08:07:11.947

I've added also many small improvements below. – faysou – 2012-04-05T09:23:27.297

I've added column vector editing capability to the function. For row vectors, just (obviously) transpose it. – CHM – 2012-06-24T20:28:06.843


In order to provide a user-friendly way to edit a matrix, I usually do the following:

a = RandomReal[Range[0, 1], {5, 5}];
Grid[Array[InputField[Dynamic[a[[#1, #2]]], FieldSize -> 5] &, {5, 5}]]

enter image description here

Because Dynamic is used in there, the matrix stored in variable a is automatically modified if you changed any of the numbers in the input fields.

And taking into account all comments below (with thanks to celtschk, Heike and tkott), I wrote the following function:

editMatrix[m_?ArrayQ] := Module[{cells},
  label[i_?IntegerQ] := If[i > 26, label[Quotient[i, 27]], ""] <> FromCharacterCode[65 + Mod[(i - 1), 26]];
  cells = MapIndexed[InputField[Dynamic[a[[Sequence @@ #2]]], FieldSize -> 6] &, m, {2}];
  PrependTo[cells, label /@ Range[Length[m]]];
  cells = MapThread[Prepend, {cells, Join[{""}, Range[Dimensions[m][[2]]]]}];
  Pane[Grid[cells], Scrollbars -> True, ImageSize -> {Full, 500}]

Now rows and columns are numbered Excel-style, and it has scrollbars:

enter image description here


Posted 2012-04-03T13:35:24.667

Reputation: 10 517

Now to put that into a nice function: editMatrix[m_?ArrayQ] := Grid[Array[InputField[Dynamic[m[[#1, #2]]], FieldSize -> 6] &, Dimensions@m]] – tkott – 2012-04-03T14:02:21.370

1The following variant does not need access to the dimensions: Grid[MapIndexed[InputField[Dynamic[a[[Sequence@@#2]]],FieldSize->5]&,a,{2}]] – celtschk – 2012-04-03T14:59:02.720

1BTW, a way to disable Shift-Enter for that grid would be nice. It doesn't do anything meaningful anyway. – celtschk – 2012-04-03T15:03:51.467

@F'x your updated solution looks nice! Two comments: the labels disappear when you scroll, and the display is slow for a big matrix (don't see how to avoid this using InputField, a built-in improved TableView could probably correct this). – faysou – 2012-04-03T22:44:24.127

just another remark: the slowdown for very big matrices will be caused because this generates an InputField for every matrix entry, even if only very view of them are shown. You could solve that issue by always showing an array of e.g. at most 10x10 InputFields and use sliders to change the indices which are actually shown. I have done things like that and found that working fast and reliable. – Albert Retey – 2012-04-04T09:38:21.107

Thanks for the remark Albert, such a solution combined with what F'x already did would be nearly perfect. – faysou – 2012-04-04T09:47:55.823

1In your editMatrix function after your edit, you changed m by a, which is wrong. Something else, to make it work properly, you need to add Attributes[editMatrix] = {HoldAll}. It's a very nice solution! – FJRA – 2012-04-19T13:36:33.700

Looks VERY nice, but INSTABLE. I have several medium sized ( +/-200 by 2 ) matrices that crash the solution if you are interested. - Too good to be true. – nilo de roock – 2012-04-28T10:44:51.010

@F'x It seems there is a typo in your definition above. I should read m[[Sequence @@ #2]]] instead of a[[Sequence @@ #2]]]? – chris – 2012-11-25T15:28:05.423


Maybe the undocumented TableView is helpful:

TableView[RandomReal[{0, 1}, {100, 100}]]

See this post.

Or, as suggested in the comments, perhaps TableForm.


Posted 2012-04-03T13:35:24.667


Or the documented TableForm. – VLC – 2012-04-03T13:49:55.987

Nice find! Now I wonder what other "Views" there are... – tkott – 2012-04-03T13:56:56.493

4It did not take long to crash Mma 8.0.4 by editing the contents of the tableview. Very slow too. Looking forward to an official release of this expression, though! – JxB – 2012-04-03T14:35:28.520

1However, there are plenty of additional data manipulations that can be done with TableView. If you right-click on the table, you can sort, add or delete either columns or rows, etc. – VLC – 2012-04-03T14:36:55.187

To easily copy a number matrix to Excel I use this ExcelForm[l_] := TableForm[Map[AccountingForm[#, NumberSigns -> {"-", ""}] &, l, {-1}]]; – faysou – 2012-04-03T14:55:05.097

@tkott ?*`*View :) – rm -rf – 2012-04-03T17:10:09.797

@R.M I really need to start remember thing the syntax for checking commands of type X... Thanks :) – tkott – 2012-04-03T17:28:42.810

TableView in v9 still has it's issues but I like it 213 times more for visualizing big matrices. Late +1 – Rojo – 2012-12-14T02:01:11.330


Here's a slight variation of Albert's answer in order to
- not need Dynamic in the function's first argument
- have letters like in Excel for the columns' labels
- the vertical slider is on the right
- a name of the variable is displayed on top of the panel
- smaller space between cells
- using OptionsPattern
- celtschk's improvement for not displaying slider if not needed.

The perspective of not needing Excel anymore for just viewing big tables is really appealing ...


SetAttributes[GetSymbolName, HoldFirst];
GetSymbolName[symbol_] := ToString@HoldForm@symbol;

editMatrix[m_, OptionsPattern[]] := 
        maxrows = Min[OptionValue["MaxFields"][[1]], Length[m]],
        maxcols = Min[OptionValue["MaxFields"][[2]], Length[m[[1]]]],
            DynamicModule[{rowoffset = 0, coloffset = 0},
                                    With[ {x = i, y = j},
                                        Switch[{i, j},
                                            {0, 0}, 
                                            {0, _}, 
                                                Dynamic[If[excelColumnLabel,integerToLetters[y + coloffset],y + coloffset]],
                                            {_, 0}, 
                                                Dynamic[x + rowoffset],
                                                InputField[Dynamic[m[[x + rowoffset, y + coloffset]]], FieldSize -> 7]
                                    {i, 0, maxrows}, {j, 0, maxcols}
                                Spacings -> {0, 0}
                            If[Length@m>maxrows,VerticalSlider[Dynamic[rowoffset], {Length[m] - maxrows, 0, 1}]]
                        {If[Length@First@m>maxcols,Slider[Dynamic[coloffset], {0, Length[m[[1]]] - maxcols, 1}]]}


metal = RandomReal[1, {1000, 300}];


Posted 2012-04-03T13:35:24.667

Reputation: 10 549


A correct version of the integerToLetters function is in the accepted answer here

– faysou – 2013-12-16T17:12:55.653

Works very quick!!! And expression capacity is already there (you can enter whatever in your cells and it works nice). Now to replace excel let's add capacity for Column/Row references to cells :P. – FJRA – 2012-04-19T13:42:44.487


Whereas TableView looks great, it seems very unstable. I edited a cell and pressed return (by accident more or less), and that caused a crash (on Mac).

So I would second the suggestion to use TableForm because it also allows editing if you take the output of

TableForm[RandomReal[{0, 1}, {30, 30}]]

by selecting its cell bracket and copying it. Then start a new cell by typing

a = 

and paste the last output into it. Now you have the data in an input cell but still in the form of a grid. The cells can be edited by placing the cursor in them. The display is very bare-bones, but you can customize it to some extent with the TableSpacing option.


Posted 2012-04-03T13:35:24.667

Reputation: 93 191


I am not keen on manually editing in big arrays, but if you just want to view one, perhaps this function grid is useful. It takes all options of Grid, and produces an adequately sized output cell that is easily scrolled:

  grid[m_?ArrayQ, opts : OptionsPattern[]] := 
     ExpressionCell[Grid[m, FilterRules[{opts}, Options[Grid]]], 
       CellFrame -> True, Background -> LightBlue, 
    PageWidth -> Infinity]];

wilbert van meerwijk

Posted 2012-04-03T13:35:24.667

Reputation: 321