This is machine translation

Translated by Microsoft
Mouseover text to see original. Click the button below to return to the English version of the page.

Note: This page has been translated by MathWorks. Click here to see
To view all translated materials including this page, select Country from the country navigator on the bottom of this page.


Cubic spline data interpolation


s = spline(x,y,xq)
pp = spline(x,y)



s = spline(x,y,xq) returns a vector of interpolated values s corresponding to the query points in xq. The values of s are determined by cubic spline interpolation of x and y.


pp = spline(x,y) returns a piecewise polynomial structure for use by ppval and the spline utility unmkpp.


collapse all

Use spline to interpolate a sine curve over unevenly-spaced sample points.

x = [0 1 2.5 3.6 5 7 8.1 10];
y = sin(x);
xx = 0:.25:10;
yy = spline(x,y,xx);

Use clamped or complete spline interpolation when endpoint slopes are known. This example enforces zero slopes at the end points of the interpolation.

x = -4:4;
y = [0 .15 1.12 2.36 2.36 1.46 .49 .06 0];
cs = spline(x,[0 y 0]);
xx = linspace(-4,4,101);

Extrapolate a data set to predict population growth.

Create two vectors to represent the census years from 1900 to 1990 (t) and the corresponding United States population in millions of people (p).

t = 1900:10:1990;
p = [ 75.995  91.972  105.711  123.203  131.669 ...
     150.697 179.323  203.212  226.505  249.633 ];

Extrapolate and predict the population in the year 2000 using a cubic spline.

ans = 270.6060

Generate the plot of a circle, with the five data points y(:,2),...,y(:,6) marked with o's. The matrix y contains two more columns than does x. Therefore, spline uses y(:,1) and y(:,end) as the endslopes. The circle starts and ends at the point (1,0), so that point is plotted twice.

x = pi*[0:.5:2]; 
y = [0  1  0 -1  0  1  0; 
     1  0  1  0 -1  0  1];
pp = spline(x,y);
yy = ppval(pp, linspace(0,2*pi,101));
axis equal

Use spline to sample a function over a finer mesh.

Generate sine and cosine curves for a few values between 0 and 1. Use spline interpolation to sample the functions over a finer mesh.

x = 0:.25:1;
Y = [sin(x); cos(x)];
xx = 0:.1:1;
YY = spline(x,Y,xx);
hold on
hold off

Compare the interpolation results produced by spline and pchip for two different functions.

Create vectors of x values, function values at those points y, and query points xq. Compute interpolations at the query points using both spline and pchip. Plot the interpolated function values at the query points for comparison.

x = -3:3; 
y = [-1 -1 -1 0 1 1 1]; 
xq1 = -3:.01:3;
p = pchip(x,y,xq1);
s = spline(x,y,xq1);
legend('Sample Points','pchip','spline','Location','SouthEast')

In this case, pchip is favorable since it does not oscillate as freely between the sample points.

Perform a second comparison using an oscillatory sample function.

x = 0:25;
y = besselj(1,x);
xq2 = 0:0.01:25;
p = pchip(x,y,xq2);
s = spline(x,y,xq2);
legend('Sample Points','pchip','spline')

When the underlying function is oscillatory, spline captures the movement between points better than pchip.

Input Arguments

collapse all

x-coordinates, specified as a vector. The vector x specifies the points at which the data y is given. The elements of x must be unique.

Data Types: single | double

Function values at x-coordinates, specified as a numeric vector, matrix, or array. x and y typically have the same length, but y also can have exactly two more elements than x to specify endslopes.

If y is a matrix or array, then the values in the last dimension, y(:,...,:,j), are taken as the values to match with x. In that case, the last dimension of y must be the same length as x or have exactly two more elements.

The endslopes of the cubic spline follow these rules:

  • If x and y are vectors of the same size, then the not-a-knot end conditions are used.

  • If x or y is a scalar, then it is expanded to have the same length as the other and the not-a-knot end conditions are used.

  • If y is a vector that contains two more values than x has entries, then spline uses the first and last values in y as the endslopes for the cubic spline. For example, if y is a vector, then:

    • y(2:end-1) gives the function values at each point in x

    • y(1) gives the slope at the beginning of the interval located at min(x)

    • y(end) gives the slope at the end of the interval located at max(x)

  • Similarly, if y is a matrix or an N-dimensional array with size(y,N) equal to length(x)+2, then:

    • y(:,...,:,j+1) gives the function values at each point in x for j = 1:length(x)

    • y(:,:,...:,1) gives the slopes at the beginning of the intervals located at min(x)

    • y(:,:,...:,end) gives the slopes at the end of the intervals located at max(x)

Data Types: single | double

Query points, specified as a vector. The points specified in xq are the x-coordinates for the interpolated function values s that spline computes.

Data Types: single | double

Output Arguments

collapse all

Interpolated values at query points, returned as a vector, matrix, or array.

The size of s is related to the sizes of y and xq:

  • If y is a vector, then s has the same size as xq.

  • If y is an array of size Ny = size(y), then these conditions apply:

    • If xq is a scalar or vector, then size(s) returns [Ny(1:end-1) length(xq)].

    • If xq is an array, then size(s) returns [Ny(1:end-1) size(xq)].

Piecewise polynomial, returned as a structure. Use this structure with the ppval function to evaluate the piecewise polynomial at one or more query points. The structure has these fields.


'pp' for piecewise polynomial


Vector of length L+1  with strictly increasing elements that represent the start and end of each of L intervals


L-by-k  matrix with each row coefs(i,:) containing the local coefficients of an order k polynomial on the ith interval, [breaks(i),breaks(i+1)]


Number of pieces, L


Order of the polynomials


Dimensionality of target

Since the polynomial coefficients in coefs are local coefficients for each interval, you must subtract the lower endpoint of the corresponding knot interval to use the coefficients in a conventional polynomial equation. In other words, for the coefficients [a,b,c,d] on the interval [x1,x2], the corresponding polynomial is



  • You also can perform spline interpolation using the interp1 function with the command interp1(x,y,xq,'spline'). While spline performs interpolation on rows of an input matrix, interp1 performs interpolation on columns of an input matrix.


A tridiagonal linear system (possibly with several right-hand sides) is solved for the information needed to describe the coefficients of the various cubic polynomials that make up the interpolating spline. spline uses the functions ppval, mkpp, and unmkpp. These routines form a small suite of functions for working with piecewise polynomials. For access to more advanced features, see interp1 or the Curve Fitting Toolbox™ spline functions.


[1] de Boor, Carl. A Practical Guide to Splines. Springer-Verlag, New York: 1978.

Extended Capabilities

See Also

| | | |

Introduced before R2006a