Histograms in ROOT

Frequency distributions in ROOT are handled by a set of classes derived from the histogram class TH1, in our case TH1F. The letter F stands for "float", meaning that the data type float is used to store the entries in one histogram bin.

root [0] TF1 efunc("efunc","exp([0]+[1]*x)",0.,5.);
root [1] efunc.SetParameter(0,1);
root [2] efunc.SetParameter(1,-1);
root [3] TH1F h("h","example histogram",100,0.,5.);
root [4] for (int i=0;i<1000;i++) {h.Fill(efunc.GetRandom());}
root [5] h.Draw();

The first three lines of this example define a function, an exponential in this case, and set its parameters. In line 3 a histogram is instantiated, with a name, a title, a certain number of bins (100 of them, equidistant, equally sized) in the range from 0 to 5.

Visualisation of a histogram filled with exponentially distributed, random numbers.

We use yet another new feature of ROOT to fill this histogram with data, namely pseudo-random numbers generated with the method TF1::GetRandom, which in turn uses an instance of the ROOT class TRandom created when ROOT is started. Data is entered in the histogram at line 4 using the method TH1F::Fill in a loop construct. As a result, the histogram is filled with 1000 random numbers distributed according to the defined function. The histogram is displayed using the method TH1F::Draw(). You may think of this example as repeated measurements of the life time of a quantum mechanical state, which are entered into the histogram, thus giving a visual impression of the probability density distribution. The plot is shown in Figure 2.3.

Note that you will not obtain an identical plot when executing the lines above, depending on how the random number generator is initialised.

The class TH1F does not contain a convenient input format from plain text files. The following lines of C++ code do the job. One number per line stored in the text file "expo.dat" is read in via an input stream and filled in the histogram until end of file is reached.

root [1] TH1F h("h","example histogram",100,0.,5.);
root [2] ifstream inp; double x;
root [3] inp.open("expo.dat");
root [4] while (inp >> x) { h.Fill(x); }
root [5] h.Draw();
root [6] inp.close();

Histograms and random numbers are very important tools in statistical data analysis, a whole chapter will be dedicated to this topic.