Interpolation is a technique used in mathematics, computer graphics, and data analysis to estimate a data point or value within a given range based on a set of known data points. It involves constructing new data points by using a suitable mathematical formula or algorithm, typically a polynomial or piecewise function. This process is commonly employed in image resizing, audio processing, and various scientific modeling applications where precise approximations are required for unknown values within a given range.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Interpolation” is: /ˌin(t)ərpəˈlāSH(ə)n/Broken down into syllables, it’s: in-ter-po-la-tion.

Key Takeaways

  1. Interpolation is a method of estimating unknown data points within a range of known data points by creating a function that fits the existing data and using it to predict missing values.
  2. There are various interpolation techniques, such as linear interpolation, polynomial interpolation, and spline interpolation, each with its own set of advantages and limitations for different use cases.
  3. Interpolation is widely used in various fields, including mathematics, computer graphics, image processing, and engineering, to solve practical problems requiring estimation of unknown values from existing data.


Interpolation is an important technology term because it allows for the estimation of unknown values within a certain range of known data points.

This technique is vital in various fields, such as computer graphics, image processing, mathematics, and engineering.

By using interpolation, computers can fill in missing information and create smoother transitions in images, animations, or audio signals.

Additionally, it enables the enhancement of digital images, simulation of complex systems, and improvement of the accuracy of various scientific and engineering models.

Overall, interpolation is an essential tool for efficient data processing, providing more accurate representations of real-world situations, and improving the capabilities of digital systems.


Interpolation plays a vital role in various fields that handle data manipulation, be it mathematics, computer graphics, image processing, or science applications. The primary purpose of interpolation is to estimate a value between two known data points or create a high-resolution representation for the given data. It allows us to derive a continuous function from discrete data points by creating a curve or surface that passes through or near these points.

With interpolation techniques, users can fill in missing data, enhance images, optimize signals, and make predictions that facilitate efficient and comprehensive analysis. One of the most common applications of interpolation is in digital image processing. For instance, when resizing images to enlarge or reduce their dimensions, the process requires creating new pixel values between known pixels.

Interpolation algorithms make this possible by accurately calculating these new values, providing a smooth and visually cohesive output. Similarly, in the field of computer-aided design (CAD), engineers rely on interpolation methods to generate curves or surfaces from a set of scattered data points. By employing these methods, researchers, analysts, and engineers are able to improve the data quality, extract high-resolution information from low-resolution data, and advance model predictions for more informed decision-making processes.

Examples of Interpolation

Image Processing and Computer Graphics: In digital image processing, interpolation is used to resize or rescale images. When an image is enlarged or reduced in size, interpolation techniques, such as Bilinear or Bicubic interpolation, are employed to estimate and fill in the missing pixel values in the new image, maintaining the image quality and preventing the appearance of pixelation.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Interpolation is widely used in GIS to predict unknown data values based on known data points. For example, when estimating land elevations, rainfall, or pollution levels over a region, interpolation techniques, such as Kriging or Inverse Distance Weighting (IDW), are employed. This helps in generating maps that display continuous surfaces of these parameters and assists in decision-making and analysis of spatial patterns.

Weather Forecasting: Meteorologists use interpolation techniques to predict various weather parameters (e.g., temperature, humidity, air pressure) across different locations based on observed data points. By examining data from weather stations and applying interpolation methods, they can estimate weather conditions in areas where no observations are available. This is useful for generating weather maps and forecasts, informing the public, and guiding policy decisions related to agricultural practices, disaster management, and more.

Interpolation FAQ

What is interpolation?

Interpolation is a mathematical technique for estimating unknown values between known data points. It is commonly used in many fields, including computer graphics, engineering, and statistics. The goal of interpolation is to find a smooth function that passes through the given data points and can be used to estimate values at any point in the defined interval.

What are some common interpolation methods?

Some common interpolation methods include linear interpolation, polynomial interpolation, spline interpolation, and kriging. The choice of which interpolation method to use depends on the specific application and the desired level of accuracy.

What is the difference between interpolation and extrapolation?

Interpolation is the technique of estimating values within a given range of known data points, while extrapolation is the technique of estimating values outside of the known data range. Interpolation generally provides more accurate results since the estimation is based on surrounding known values, while extrapolation involves a higher degree of uncertainty.

What are the main applications of interpolation?

Interpolation is used in a wide variety of fields, including computer graphics, image processing, engineering, finance, climate and weather modeling, and statistics. Some common applications include resizing digital images, generating smooth motion in animation, estimating missing values in a dataset, and simulating fluid flows in engineering designs.

How is interpolation used in computer graphics and gaming?

In computer graphics and gaming, interpolation is used to create smooth and realistic visual effects. Some common uses are generating in-between frames for smooth animations, estimating sub-pixel color values for anti-aliasing, and creating realistic lighting effects in 3D scenes. By interpolating between known data points, such as vertex positions, texture coordinates, or colors, the computer can generate smooth visual effects that better represent the real world or enhance a game’s overall appearance.

Related Technology Terms

  • Linear interpolation
  • Bicubic interpolation
  • Spline interpolation
  • Lagrange interpolation
  • Nearest-neighbor interpolation

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