Using GDB to debug programs is great and all, but if you work with Scientific data then one really critical function is the ability to plot a long array or vector, to see how the solution is evolving at various stages.

After a bit of tinkering, I was able to take this code snippet and modify it for my needs. It had just a few problems:

  • The syntax they used for labeling things fell apart when I was using Eigen vectors, the -> became shell redirects.

  • It didn’t link very long (100+) entry arrays.

So I modified it like so:

# plot1d.gdb


# Copyright (C) 2008 Florian Lorenzen

# - Taken from

# Modified by Randall Hand to actually make it work.

# original version seemed to badly handle variable names

# like esf->data[0]@1024 (turning the > into a pipe redirect)


# Plot an expression that expands to {x1, x2, ..., xN}, i. e.

# N numbers using gnuplot.


# This file is for the GNU debugger 6.x.


# It writes temporary files named __plot1d.dump, __plot1d.dat,, so

# you should not have files of the same name in the working directory.


# It requires sed, awk, and gnuplot available in the $PATH.

# plot1d_opt_range <expr> <opt> <range>


# Plot the points of <expr> passing <opt> as plot options using

# <range> in the set yrange command.

define plot1d_opt_range

shell rm -f /tmp/__plot1d.dump /tmp/__plot1d.dat /tmp/

set logging file /tmp/__plot1d.dump

set logging on

set logging redirect on

set height 0

set print elements unlimited

output $arg0

set logging off

set logging redirect off

shell awk '{printf("%s", $0)}' < /tmp/__plot1d.dump | \

sed 's/^{\(.*\)}$/\1/;s/, */\n/g' > /tmp/__plot1d.dat

shell echo 'plot "/tmp/__plot1d.dat" title "$arg0"; pause -1 "Press enter to continue"' > /tmp/

shell gnuplot /tmp/

# shell rm -f /tmp/__plot1d.dump /tmp/__plot1d.dat /tmp/


# plot1d <expr>


# Just plot the points of <expr>.

define plot1d

plot1d_opt_range $arg0 "" "[*:*]"


# plot1d_opt <expr> <opt>


# Plot the points of <expr> passing <opt> to the

# plot command after the datafile. So, one can pass

# "with lines" here.

define plot1d_opt

plot1d_opt_range $arg0 $arg1 "[*:*]"


With this file placed somewhere and executed, you can then simply do plot1d data[0]@128 to get a nice plot of the first 128 values of data.

And if you like it so much you want to keep it, simply add source plot1d.gdb (which a path to wherever you put it) to your ~/.gdbinit