Plot different SVM classifiers in the iris datasetΒΆ

Comparison of different linear SVM classifiers on a 2D projection of the iris dataset. We only consider the first 2 features of this dataset:

  • Sepal length
  • Sepal width

This example shows how to plot the decision surface for four SVM classifiers with different kernels.

The linear models LinearSVC() and SVC(kernel='linear') yield slightly different decision boundaries. This can be a consequence of the following differences:

  • LinearSVC minimizes the squared hinge loss while SVC minimizes the regular hinge loss.
  • LinearSVC uses the One-vs-All (also known as One-vs-Rest) multiclass reduction while SVC uses the One-vs-One multiclass reduction.

Both linear models have linear decision boundaries (intersecting hyperplanes) while the non-linear kernel models (polynomial or Gaussian RBF) have more flexible non-linear decision boundaries with shapes that depend on the kind of kernel and its parameters.


while plotting the decision function of classifiers for toy 2D datasets can help get an intuitive understanding of their respective expressive power, be aware that those intuitions don’t always generalize to more realistic high-dimensional problems.


import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from sklearn import svm, datasets

# import some data to play with
iris = datasets.load_iris()
X =[:, :2]  # we only take the first two features. We could
                      # avoid this ugly slicing by using a two-dim dataset
y =

h = .02  # step size in the mesh

# we create an instance of SVM and fit out data. We do not scale our
# data since we want to plot the support vectors
C = 1.0  # SVM regularization parameter
svc = svm.SVC(kernel='linear', C=C).fit(X, y)
rbf_svc = svm.SVC(kernel='rbf', gamma=0.7, C=C).fit(X, y)
poly_svc = svm.SVC(kernel='poly', degree=3, C=C).fit(X, y)
lin_svc = svm.LinearSVC(C=C).fit(X, y)

# create a mesh to plot in
x_min, x_max = X[:, 0].min() - 1, X[:, 0].max() + 1
y_min, y_max = X[:, 1].min() - 1, X[:, 1].max() + 1
xx, yy = np.meshgrid(np.arange(x_min, x_max, h),
                     np.arange(y_min, y_max, h))

# title for the plots
titles = ['SVC with linear kernel',
          'LinearSVC (linear kernel)',
          'SVC with RBF kernel',
          'SVC with polynomial (degree 3) kernel']

for i, clf in enumerate((svc, lin_svc, rbf_svc, poly_svc)):
    # Plot the decision boundary. For that, we will assign a color to each
    # point in the mesh [x_min, x_max]x[y_min, y_max].
    plt.subplot(2, 2, i + 1)
    plt.subplots_adjust(wspace=0.4, hspace=0.4)

    Z = clf.predict(np.c_[xx.ravel(), yy.ravel()])

    # Put the result into a color plot
    Z = Z.reshape(xx.shape)
    plt.contourf(xx, yy, Z,, alpha=0.8)

    # Plot also the training points
    plt.scatter(X[:, 0], X[:, 1], c=y,
    plt.xlabel('Sepal length')
    plt.ylabel('Sepal width')
    plt.xlim(xx.min(), xx.max())
    plt.ylim(yy.min(), yy.max())

Total running time of the script: (0 minutes 0.679 seconds)

Download Python source code:
Download IPython notebook: plot_iris.ipynb