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Data Preprocessing And Visualization In C++

A working code example on how to implement basic functionalities of Machine learning using C++

Data preprocessing is the process of converting raw Data into computer understandable formats, it’s the first step in any machine learning operation. Data collection is usually loosely controlled and may result in out-of-range values. Data preparation and filtering steps can take a considerable amount of processing time.

Data preprocessing includes:

  • Reading Data from files.
  • Data cleaning.
  • Instance selection.
  • Data standardization.
  • Data transformation.
  • Feature extraction and selection.

The product of Data preprocessing is the final training set. In this article, I will address some of the Data preprocessing steps while using C++, also Data Visualization using the Matplotlib-Cpp library.

This article is part of a series that address the implementation of Machine learning algorithms in C++, throughout this series, We will be using the Iris Data set available here.

Note that there are already libraries that can do this job easily, but the purpose of this series is to learn how to develop these algorithms from scratch. if you are interested in learning more about the ML libraries for C++ you can read this article:

In this article, I will use the iris dataset as an example of the Data that we can perform each operation on it, also note that I will be using C++11 in this tutorial.

Reading Data from Files:

After downloading the iris.Data file from here. let’s read the Data from a file with simple read file instructions and parse each type of Data in a separate vector.

std::vector<std::vector<float>> Read_Iris_Dataset(void)
  std::ifstream myfile("");
  std::string line;
  std::vector<std::vector<float>> Iris_Dataset;
  std::vector<float> temp_sepal_len;
  std::vector<float> temp_sepal_wid;
  std::vector<float> temp_petal_len;
  std::vector<float> temp_petal_wid;
  std::vector<float> temp_iris_class;
  float sepal_len_f,sepal_wid_f,petal_len_f,petal_wid_f;
  float iris_class_f;
  std::string temp_string;
  int count =0;
  if (myfile.is_open())
  std::cout<< "file opened successfully"<<std::endl;
  while (std::getline(myfile, line)) {
  std::replace(line.begin(), line.end(), '-', '_');
  std::replace(line.begin(), line.end(), ',', ' ');
  std::istringstream iss(line);
  iss >> sepal_len_f>>sepal_wid_f >> petal_len_f >>petal_wid_f >> temp_string;
  if("Iris_setosa") == 0)
  iris_class_f = Iris_setosa;
  else if ("Iris_versicolor") == 0)
  iris_class_f = Iris_versicolor;
  else if ("Iris_virginica") == 0)
  iris_class_f = Iris_virginica;
  iris_class_f = Iris_unkown;
  std::cout << "Unable to open file";
  return Iris_Dataset;

In this code, we used the ifstream to create a simple input stream from a file.

  std::ifstream myfile("");

We used also multiple vectors to read each type of information in the Data set then append all the Data into a single two-dimensional vector.


std::vector<std::vector<float>> Iris_Dataset;
  std::vector<float> temp_sepal_len;
  std::vector<float> temp_sepal_wid;
  std::vector<float> temp_petal_len;
  std::vector<float> temp_petal_wid;
  std::vector<float> temp_iris_class;

In the iris Data set, All the Data was from the same Data type except the iris class Data which was string type so I have to convert this into an enum type and deal with it as a float to match the rest of the Data in the Iris_Data set vector.

However, you can always use other ways to load your Data with different types, like you can create a structure and load your Data on it or create a class for the iris Data set and load the Data on that class.

struct Iris {
  float sepal_length;
  float sepal_width;
  float petal_length;
  float petal_width;
  std::string ir_class;

for now, I decided to proceed with this simple way of dealing with Data with the same datatype.

Data Visualization:

Images speak louder than words, Representing the Data visually can be important for understanding the data, collecting information about the data, and identifying the outliers.

While this seems less important in developing the Machine learning algorithms using C++, as mostly you will be working with Data with other languages like python for testing and implementing the algorithm and then the algorithm can be converted to C++, I believe this can be important to visualize the Data during the implementation for debugging purposes for example.

In this article, I will be using the Matplotlib-CPP, which is a simple wrapper for the python APIs of Matplotlib. Please review the documentation to know more about the library.

Using Matplotlib-CPP is simple, you need just to include the header file “matplotlibcpp.h” and link it with python libraries. here is the minimal example from their GitHub repository:

g++ minimal.cpp -std=C++11 -I/usr/include/python2.7 -lpython2.7C++
#include "matplotlibcpp.h"
  namespace plt = matplotlibcpp;
  int main() {

Visualization-c.png" width="555" height="420">

For now, I will just represent the Data for the four iris attributes using the standard plot API:C++
std::vector<std::vector<float>> dataset = Read_Iris_Dataset();
  plt::plot(dataset[0],{{"label", "sepal_length"}});
  plt::plot(dataset[1],{ {"label", "sepal_width"}});
  plt::plot(dataset[2],{ {"label", "petal_length"}});
  plt::plot(dataset[3],{ {"label", "petal_width"}});
  plt::title("Standard usage");

Another way to represent the Data using the bar API:

Data Cleaning:

The process of detecting and correcting (or removing) corrupt or inaccurate Data from a Data set, for example, you may have some missing, inconsistent values or outliers introduced during the Data collection phase.

In the previous function, you may notice that I used the replace std::replace function to replace some values. This step can be used to remove or replace any value before even reading the Data into vectors. For example here, I suspected that “,” or “-” may confuse loading the values from the file so I decided to use a unified way of reading by replacing them with other values.

std::replace(line.begin(), line.end(), '-', '_');
  std::replace(line.begin(), line.end(), ',', ' ');


Another way is to remove or replace the Data after been added into vectors using C++%20stl/">iterators and Lambda expressions.

Here is an example of removing values greater than 5.8 in the Sepal Length

This can be done by adding one line of code

std::replace_if(dataset[0].begin(), dataset[0].end(), [](float &value) { return value >= 5.8;}, 5.8);

Data Standardization:

Data standardization is an important step in machine learning models to enhance the model accuracy. To understand more about the importance of Data standardization, you can read the following article:

Standardizing a Data set involves re-scaling the distribution of values so that the mean of observed values is 0 and the standard deviation is 1. This will require subtracting the mean and dividing by the standard deviation.

First, we implement an API for calculating the Mean:

template <typename T>
  T Mean (std::vector<T> Data)
  T mean = std::accumulate(std::begin(Data), std::end(Data), 0.0) / Data.size();
  return mean;


This API will take a vector of any standard type and calculate the mean value. A similar one can be used used to calculate the standard deviation.
template <typename M>
  double StDev (std::vector<M> &Data)
  M mean = std::accumulate(std::begin(Data), std::end(Data), 0.0) / Data.size();
  double sq_sum = std::inner_product(Data.begin(), Data.end(), Data.begin(), 0.0);
  double stdev = std::sqrt(sq_sum / Data.size() - (double)(mean * mean));
  return stdev;

Calculating the Mean and Standard deviation of the sepal length:
float sepal_length_mean = Mean(dataset[0]);
  float sepal_length_stdev = StDev(dataset[0]);

We can visualize the Data before applying the standardization:

Then we can apply this one line code to calculate the value after standardization:

std::for_each( dataset[0].begin(), dataset[0].end(), [&](float & x){ x = ((x - sepal_length_mean)/sepal_length_stdev);});

subtracting the mean and dividing by the standard deviation on each vector value using lambda expressions


In this article, we gave an example of the implementation of some of the Data preprocessing steps, we introduced reading Data from files, Data Visualization using Matplotlib cpp, Data cleaning, and performing some operations like mean and standard deviation on the Data as part of the Data normalization.

This article is part of a series that address the implementation of Machine learning algorithms in C++, throughout this series, We will be using the Iris Data set available here.


1 UCanCode Advance E-XD++ CAD Drawing and Printing Solution Source Code Solution for C/C++, .NET V2022 is released!

2  HMI & SCADA Source Code Solution for C/C++, .NET V2022 is released!

3  UCanCode Advance E-XD++ GIS SVG Drawing and Printing Solution Source Code Solution for C/C++, .NET V2022 is released!


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