A blog by Rob J Hyndman 

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Posts Tagged ‘graphics’:

A new candidate for worst figure

Published on 1 September 2014

Today I read a paper that had been sub­mit­ted to the IJF which included the fol­low­ing fig­ure along with sev­eral sim­i­lar plots. (Click for a larger ver­sion.) I haven’t seen any­thing this bad for a long time. In fact, I think I would find it very dif­fi­cult to repro­duce using R, or even Excel (which is par­tic­u­larly adept at bad graph­ics). A few years ago I pro­duced “Twenty rules for good graph­ics”. I think I need to add a cou­ple of addi­tional rules: Rep­re­sent time changes using lines. Never use fill pat­terns such as cross-​​​​hatching. (My orig­i­nal rule #20 said Avoid pie charts.) It would have been rel­a­tively sim­ple to show these data as six lines on a plot of GDP against time. That would have made it obvi­ous that the Euro­pean GDP was shrink­ing, the GDP of Asia/​​Oceania was increas­ing, while other regions of the world were fairly sta­ble. At least I think that is what is hap­pen­ing, but it is very hard to tell from such graph­i­cal obfuscation.

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Visit of Di Cook

Published on 13 August 2014

Next week, Pro­fes­sor Di Cook from Iowa State Uni­ver­sity is vis­it­ing my research group at Monash Uni­ver­sity. Di is a world leader in data visu­al­iza­tion, and is espe­cially well-​​​​known for her work on inter­ac­tive graph­ics and the XGobi and GGobi soft­ware. See her book with Deb Swayne for details. For those want­ing to hear her speak, read on.

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Reflections on UseR! 2013

Published on 13 July 2013

This week I’ve been at the R Users con­fer­ence in Albacete, Spain. These con­fer­ences are a lit­tle unusual in that they are not really about research, unlike most con­fer­ences I attend. They pro­vide a place for peo­ple to dis­cuss and exchange ideas on how R can be used. Here are some thoughts and high­lights of the con­fer­ence, in no par­tic­u­lar order.

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Removing white space around R figures

Published on 22 February 2013

When I want to insert fig­ures gen­er­ated in R into a LaTeX doc­u­ment, it looks bet­ter if I first remove the white space around the fig­ure. Unfor­tu­nately, R does not make this easy as the graphs are gen­er­ated to look good on a screen, not in a doc­u­ment. There are two things that can be done to fix this problem.

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LaTeX loops

Published on 23 October 2012

Today I was writ­ing a report which included 20 fig­ures, with the names demandplot1.pdf, demandplot2.pdf, …, demandplot20.pdf, and all with sim­i­lar cap­tions. Clearly a loop was required. After all, LaTeX is a pro­gram­ming lan­guage, so we should be able to take advan­tage of its capabilities.

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The Young Stats Communication Challenge

Published on 8 October 2012

The Aus­tralian Young Sta­tis­ti­cians Con­fer­ence (Feb 2013) is orga­niz­ing a com­mu­ni­ca­tion com­pe­ti­tion. They invite all early-​​​​career sta­tis­ti­cians (study­ing, or within 5 years of grad­u­a­tion) to pro­duce a short (3−5 minute) video for the ABS YSC2013 Video Com­pe­ti­tion, or a sta­tic info­graphic for the ABS YSC2013 Info­graphic Com­pe­ti­tion. Both com­pe­ti­tions have a 1st prize of 500, and 2nd prize of 250. Entries close 16th Novem­ber, and win­ners will be noti­fied by mid-​​​​December. Details avail­able at: ysc2013​.com/​p​r​o​g​r​a​m​/​c​o​m​p​e​t​i​t​ions/ I’m a speaker at the con­fer­ence, so hope­fully I will get to see some of the great entries!  

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Data visualization

Published on 5 March 2012

For those who have not read the sem­i­nal works of Tufte and Cleve­land, please hang your heads in shame. To sal­vage some sense of self-​​​​worth, you can then head over to Solomon Messing’s blog where he is start­ing a series on data visu­al­iza­tion based on the prin­ci­ples devel­oped by Tufte and Cleve­land (with R exam­ples). The clas­sics are also worth read­ing, and remain rel­e­vant despite the 20 or 30 years that have elapsed since they appeared.

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Data visualization videos

Published on 30 November 2010

Prob­a­bly every­one has seen Hans Rosling’s famous TED talk by now. If not, here it is: I recently came across a cou­ple of other excep­tional talks on data visu­al­iza­tion: Hans Rosling again: “Let my dataset change your mind­set”. If only all sta­tis­tics lec­tur­ers were this dynamic! David McCan­d­less: “The beauty of data visu­al­iza­tion”. Not so excit­ing as Hans, but some great exam­ples. And here’s an hour-​​​​length doc­u­men­tary hosted by Hans Rosling called “The Joy of Stats”.

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Animated plots in R and LaTeX

Published on 13 October 2010

I like to use ani­mated plots in my talks on func­tional time series, partly because it is the only way to really see what is going on with changes in the shapes of curves over time, and also because audi­ences love them! Here is how it is done.

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Twenty rules for good graphics

Published on 6 August 2010

One of the things I repeat­edly include in ref­eree reports, and in my responses to authors who have sub­mit­ted papers to the Inter­na­tional Jour­nal of Fore­cast­ing, are com­ments designed to include the qual­ity of the graph­ics. Recently some­one asked on stats​.stack​ex​change​.com about best prac­tices for pro­duc­ing plots. So I thought it might be help­ful to col­late some of the answers given there and add a few com­ments of my own taken from things I’ve writ­ten for authors. The fol­low­ing “rules” are in no par­tic­u­lar order. Use vec­tor graph­ics such as eps or pdf. These scale prop­erly and do not look fuzzy when enlarged. Do not use jpeg, bmp or png files as these will look fuzzy when enlarged, or if saved at very high res­o­lu­tions will be enor­mous files. Jpegs in par­tic­u­lar are designed for phở­tographs not sta­tis­ti­cal graph­ics. Use read­able fonts. For graph­ics I pre­fer sans-​​​​serif fonts such as Hel­vetica or Arial. Make sure the font size is read­able after the fig­ure is scaled to what­ever size it will be printed. Avoid clut­tered leg­ends. Where pos­si­ble, add labels directly to the ele­ments of the plot rather than use a leg­end at all. If this won’t work, then keep the leg­end from obscur­ing the plot­ted data,


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