John D. Hunter

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John D. Hunter
Born(1968-08-01)August 1, 1968
DiedAugust 28, 2012(2012-08-28) (aged 44)
EducationPrinceton University
University of Chicago
Known forMatplotlib
Scientific career
InstitutionsNumFOCUS Foundation

John D. Hunter (August 1, 1968 – August 28, 2012) was an American neurobiologist and the original author of Matplotlib.[1]


He was brought up in Dyersburg, Tennessee. He graduated from The McCallie School. He studied initially at Princeton University, later he obtained a Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of Chicago in 2004.[2][3] In 2005, he joined TradeLink Securities as a Quantitative Analyst.[4] Later, he was one of the founding directors of NumFOCUS Foundation.[5]


Matplotlib was originally conceived to visualize electrocorticography (ECoG) data of epilepsy patients during post-doctoral research in neurobiology.[4] The open-source tool emerged as the most widely used plotting library for the Python programming language, and a core component of the scientific Python stack, along with NumPy, SciPy and IPython.[6] Matplotlib was used for data visualization during landing of the Phoenix spacecraft in 2008 as well as for the creation of the first image of a black hole.[7][8]

Personal life[edit]

He was diagnosed with malignant colon cancer and died from cancer treatment complications on August 28, 2012.[9][10][11] His memorial service was held at the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Chapel (which was also the location of his Ph.D. graduation) on October 1, 2012.[12] He is survived by his wife Miriam, and three daughters: Clara, Ava, and Rahel. A memorial fund to honor his work has been established to help with the education of his three daughters.[13]


Python Software Foundation awarded its first Distinguished Service Award — the Foundation's highest honor [14] — to Hunter in order to recognize his long-term excellence in the Python community.[15][16]


From 2013 onwards, the SciPy Conference has hosted the annual John Hunter Excellence in Plotting Contest in his honor to continue the advancement of scientific plotting, where the first prize winner is awarded with $1000.[17]


  1. ^ Hunter, John D. "Matplotlib: A 2D graphics environment." Computing in science and engineering 9.3 (2007): 90-95.
  2. ^ "John D. Hunter '90". 21 January 2016.
  3. ^ Pardalos, P. M.; Sackellares, J. C.; Carney, P. R.; Iasemidis, L. D., eds. (2004). Quantitative neuroscience: models, algorithms, diagnostics, and therapeutic applications. Vol. 2. Springer Science & Business Media.
  4. ^ a b Kristian Hermansen (2012). Brown, A.; Wilson, G. (eds.). The architecture of open source applications. Vol. ii. Lulu.
  5. ^ "Minutes". May 16, 2012. Archived from the original on 2015-09-06. Retrieved 2015-04-01. NumFOCUS First Minutes of Meeting
  6. ^ Sheppard, K. (2014). Introduction to Python for econometrics, statistics and data analysis. Selfpublished, University of Oxford, version, 2.
  7. ^ "Screenshots — Matplotlib 1.3.x documentation".
  8. ^ Akiyama, Kazunori; et al. (2019). "First M87 Event Horizon Telescope Results. III. Data Processing and Calibration". The Astrophysical Journal. 875 (1): L3. arXiv:1906.11240. Bibcode:2019ApJ...875L...3E. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/ab0c57.
  9. ^ "Google Groups".
  10. ^ "Obituaries for September 9, 2012". 9 September 2012.
  11. ^ "University obituaries - The University of Chicago Magazine".
  12. ^ "In Memoriam, John D. Hunter III: 1968-2012".
  13. ^ "NumFOCUS Foundation -". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14.
  14. ^ "PSF Distinguished Service Awards".
  15. ^ "Announcing the 2012 Distinguished Service Award - John Hunter". 14 September 2012.
  16. ^ "Redirecting to Google Groups".
  17. ^ "Excellence in Plotting Contest - SciPy 2015 Conference".