Master NumPys Arrays numpy.moveaxis Guide

Master NumPy’s Arrays: numpy.moveaxis Guide

Numpy.moveaxis is a powerful tool for manipulating multidimensional arrays in Python. It is an essential function for data science and numerical computation applications, particularly when working with machine learning algorithms. This function allows for simple and quick rearrangement of array axes to achieve the desired order, enabling you to access your data in the most appropriate way for your needs.

Numpy.moveaxis is a newly introduced feature in version 1.11.0, that has since become an integral part of the numpy.ndarray library. The function moves specific axes within an array to different positions while keeping the other axes in their original arrangement.

Understanding how to use numpy.moveaxis is essential for a variety of purposes, including data preprocessing and visualization. In this post, we will discuss what numpy.moveaxis is, how it works, and how you can use it to manipulate arrays to your advantage.

Why Move Axis?

Numpy move axis is a useful function in reordering the dimensions of an array. Moving axis is necessary to make computations and operations easier to manage. By changing the order of the axes, you can simplify the process of accessing specific elements in the array, which is especially helpful when dealing with multidimensional arrays.

One common scenario where moving axis is useful is when dealing with image and video processing. Images and videos are often represented as multidimensional arrays, and changing the dimensions of the array can make it easier to manipulate data such as brightness, contrast, rotation, and more.

How to Use numpy.moveaxis()

numpy.moveaxis() is a powerful function introduced in version 1.11.0 that allows you to move the axes of an array to new positions while keeping the other axes in their original order.

To use numpy.moveaxis(), you need to provide it with the input array (a) and two arguments: the source axis position (source) and the destination axis position (destination).

Here’s the syntax for numpy.moveaxis():

numpy.moveaxis ( a, source, destination )

For example, let’s say you have a 3D array a with shape (2, 3, 4) and you want to move the first axis (axis 0) to the end of the array, so that the new shape becomes (3, 4, 2). Here’s how you can do it using numpy.moveaxis():

import numpy as np

a = np.ones((2, 3, 4))
b = np.moveaxis(a, 0, -1)
print(b.shape) # Output: (3, 4, 2)

In the code snippet above, we import numpy as np and create a 3D array a with shape (2, 3, 4) filled with ones. Then, we use numpy.moveaxis() to move axis 0 of a to the end of the array (-1). The resulting array b has shape (3, 4, 2). Finally, we print the shape of b using the shape attribute.

You can also use numpy.moveaxis() to move multiple axes at once by passing in a tuple of source and destination positions. For example:

import numpy as np

a = np.ones((2, 3, 4))
b = np.moveaxis(a, (0, 1), (1, 2))
print(b.shape) # Output: (3, 2, 4)

In the code snippet above, we move axes 0 and 1 of a to positions 1 and 2, respectively, using numpy.moveaxis(). The resulting array b has shape (3, 2, 4).

In summary, numpy.moveaxis() is a handy function that allows you to rearrange the axes of an array to new positions in a simple and efficient way. By providing the input array, source axis position, and destination axis position, you can easily manipulate the shape of your arrays to fit your needs.

Examples of numpy.moveaxis()

Numpy.moveaxis() is a powerful tool for manipulating arrays in Python. Here are some examples of its usage in real-life scenarios:

1. Image Processing

When processing images, it is often necessary to rearrange the dimensions of the image array. For example, a color image with dimensions (height, width, channels) may need to be rearranged to (channels, height, width) to perform certain operations. Numpy.moveaxis() allows for this manipulation with ease.


image = np.zeros((height, width, channels))
new_image = np.moveaxis(image, 2, 0)

This code moves the channels dimension to the front of the array, effectively rearranging the dimensions of the image.

2. Machine Learning

In machine learning, it is common to work with high-dimensional arrays, such as those representing images or audio signals. Numpy.moveaxis() can be useful for manipulating these arrays into the correct format for training or testing models.


data = np.zeros((samples, height, width, channels))
labels = np.zeros(samples)
shuffled_data = np.random.shuffle(data)
shuffled_labels = np.random.shuffle(labels)
x_train = np.moveaxis(shuffled_data[:train_samples], -1, 0)
y_train = shuffled_labels[:train_samples]

This code shuffles the data and labels arrays, then moves the channels dimension to the front of the training data array for use in a machine learning model.

3. Signal Processing

Signal processing often involves manipulating arrays with time or frequency as one of the dimensions. Numpy.moveaxis() can be used to rearrange the dimensions of these arrays for processing or visualization.


signal = np.zeros((samples, time_steps, channels))
spectrum = np.fft.fft(signal, axis=1)
spectrum = np.abs(spectrum)
spectrum = np.moveaxis(spectrum, 2, 0)

This code computes the Fourier transform of a signal array along the time dimension, then moves the channels dimension to the front of the spectrum array for ease of visualization or further processing.

4. Robot Control

In robotics, it is often necessary to manipulate arrays representing robot joint positions or sensor readings. Numpy.moveaxis() can be used to manipulate these arrays into the correct format for kinematics or control algorithms.


joint_positions = np.zeros((time_steps, joints))
joint_velocities = np.zeros((time_steps, joints))
joint_accelerations = np.zeros((time_steps, joints))
joint_positions = np.moveaxis(joint_positions, 1, 0)
joint_velocities = np.moveaxis(joint_velocities, 1, 0)
joint_accelerations = np.moveaxis(joint_accelerations, 1, 0)

This code rearranges arrays of joint positions, velocities, and accelerations to have time as the first dimension, allowing for easy computation of derivatives or other kinematic quantities.

Performance Optimization

numpy.moveaxis() is a powerful tool in manipulating arrays in Python. However, improper usage may lead to performance issues. As such, it is crucial to understand the impact of numpy.moveaxis() on performance and the best practices in using it for optimal performance.

One thing to consider when using numpy.moveaxis() is the cost of moving axes. Moving axes requires creating a new array with the original data rearranged. This process can be expensive, especially for large arrays. Therefore, it is best to avoid moving axes when possible and only use it when necessary.

Another way to optimize performance is by minimizing the number of moves made. Each move requires creating a new array, so it is best to reduce the number of moves made to minimize the number of new arrays created.

It is also important to note that the position of the source and destination axes will impact performance. Moving an axis to a location nearer to its final position will be faster than moving it farther away.

In using numpy.moveaxis(), it is best to follow these best practices:

  • Only use it when necessary
  • Minimize the number of moves made
  • Position the source and destination axes for optimal performance

By following these practices, you can optimize the performance of your code that uses numpy.moveaxis().

Common Mistakes

One common mistake when using numpy.moveaxis() is not fully understanding the source and destination parameters. Source should be the index or indices of the original axes to move, while destination should be the new positions of those axes.

If the source and destination parameters are not specified correctly, it can lead to unexpected results or errors in the output. For example, if the source parameter is set to the index of an axis that does not exist, a ValueError will be raised.

Another mistake is not taking into account the order of the other axes that are not being moved. These axes will remain in their original order, so it’s important to ensure that the axes that are being moved won’t interfere with the other axes.

To avoid these common mistakes, make sure to carefully specify the source and destination parameters and take into account the order of the other axes in the array.


What is an array in Numpy?

An array in Numpy is a grid of values ​​of the same type indexed by a tuple of positive integers. It is used to perform mathematical operations on entire blocks of data with a single command.

What is the difference between transpose() and moveaxis() in Numpy?

The transpose() function in Numpy reverses or permutes the axes of an array while moveaxis() function moves the axes of an array to new positions. The moveaxis() function only moves specified axes while preserving the order of the remaining axes, but transpose() can switch the order of all axes.

Can I move multiple axes in numpy.moveaxis()?

Yes, numpy.moveaxis() allows moving multiple axes by passing their indices as a tuple or list to the source parameter.

How does numpy.moveaxis() handle out of bounds error?

If the source or destination parameters provided in numpy.moveaxis() are out of bounds for the number of axes in the input array, it will raise a AxisError with a message that indicates which axis is out of range.


The numpy.moveaxis() function is a powerful tool for moving axes of arrays to new positions while keeping other axes unchanged. It comes in handy when reshaping arrays in various scientific applications such as machine learning, data analysis, and image processing. In summary, using numpy.moveaxis() provides more flexibility in organizing and manipulating multi-dimensional arrays, and can contribute to improving the efficiency of computations.


Numpy’s official documentation on numpy.moveaxis() explains how the function works and its parameters. Using this function, you can move axes of an array to new positions while keeping other axes in their original order.

Python Course’s tutorial on numpy.moveaxis() provides more insights into the function and walks through several examples.

Towards Data Science’s article on numpy.moveaxis() delves deeper into the use cases of numpy.moveaxis() and how it can be used for reshaping arrays in Python.

The syntax for numpy.moveaxis(arr, source, destination) allows the user to move one or more axes to a new position. Other axes in the array are left in their original order. The function is commonly used for reshaping arrays and transferring data between different systems.

For instance, in Example 1, the function np.moveaxis(x, 0, -1) moves the first axis to the last position and reshapes the array. The resulting array has a shape of (4, 5, 3).

The function can also speed up precomputing by using flat indexing, as shown in the code mentioned earlier. By using the function np.ravel_multi_index to move the axes, and then calling A.ravel()[map_f], you can get a slight speedup when precomputing.

Being a web developer, writer, and blogger for five years, Jade has a keen interest in writing about programming, coding, and web development.
Posts created 491

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top