Finding the Best Gamma From a Data Set

It is occasionally necessary to fit a gamma curve to a set of measurements. Or perhaps you wish to find the best gamma value that represents the data in the red, green or blue TRC tags of an ICC monitor profile:

ICC Profile Example

A common technique is to use a least squares fit of a simple gamma function to the data set:

$$Y = P^\gamma$$

In this equation, $Y$ is the measured relative luminance (i.e. in the range [0.0, 1.0]), $P$ is the relative input stimulus (also in the range [0.0, 1.0]), and $\gamma$ is the exponent (i.e. gamma).

This equation is easier to work with if you first take the logarithm of both sides:

$$\log(Y) = \gamma \log(P)$$

We can see that it is now a simple linear equation, in terms of $\log(Y)$ and $\log(P)$, passing through the origin and having a slope of $\gamma$. A least squares fit of data set $\{P_i, Y_i\}$ yields the "best" gamma:

$$\gamma = {{\sum\limits_i \log(P_i) \log(Y_i)} \over {\sum\limits_i \log(P_i)^2}}$$

Implementation Notes:

  1. Be sure to discard any points where either $P_i$ or $Y_i$ is too close to zero, since the logarithm of zero is negative infinity, which will cause the calculation to fail.
  2. It does not matter what base is used for the logarithms, just be consistent.