Friday, January 08, 2010

Graphs in statistics

Florence Nightingale is best known for her sterling work, as a nurse, improving the health conditions of British soldiers in the Crimea by improving hygiene for example. her contributions to statistics are less well known but important. She developed graphical methods for illustrating public health statistics for UK members of parliament- not the brightest of people in general and was able to use observational studies to show the effect of improved hygiene in field hospitals on mortality. She developed a version of the pie chart.
To remind you of what a good pie chart looks like I have given an example (h/t the Laughing Squid)

4 comments:

Martin Ryan said...

For the visual display enthusiast... most statisticians eschew the use of pie-charts. Tufte, in his book, "The Visual Dispaly of ..." comes down pretty hard on them: "Given their low data-density and failure to order numbers along a visual dimension, they should never be used." Of course, they are often used in media reports; but would never appear in a statistics journal article!

Edward Tufte, 1983, "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information." Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press.

Kevin Denny said...

I think they can be pretty effective plus pie tastes nice.

Martin Ryan said...

I reckon they have their place for public consumption too.

The charts, that is...

Brendan said...

See Junk Charts for an example (good? contrived?) of the weakness of pie charts.