Possible to fix existing matrix in specified shape onto mesh?

Dear allies,
I am amassed how much you can do with blender, I think much credit is due to the people developing this software.
For couple of years I thought it would be a good idea to visualise my ideas with an animation or an image. Now (finally!!) I am actually getting around trying something. The thing I’m working with is in the smallest of scales, namely surface roughness. The machines that measure roughness are going from a sensitivity in the nanometer range to the petameter range (…that’s right, measurements in atomic scale).
Ok, so I am new to this game. I am going through the video tutorials at the moment. What I has is a matrix of surface roughness values (can be a square or non-square matrix, can be a vector, I am free to measure in any way). I would like to add the roughness matrix to a surface as a first step…Is this possible in blender? The matrix can have x,y,z - coord if that’s preferable (I normally use a matrix of 1000 ’ 1000 z-values and have the point density for for x any y in a header or another file).
Second question; Do you recommend anything special (tutorial, part of the manual) to start learning to do the roughness visualisation? Is there anything in blender I should pay special attention to?
Here’s a nice picture of measured roughness
http://www.comp.leeds.ac.uk/ceg/RealRough/Splot1.jpg

Thanks in advance
/ pusj