Monday, February 8, 2016

Correlation Guessing

Guess the Correlation is a game that asks you to do just that. Scatter plots are displayed and you respond with your best guess of the correlation. I found that I was consistently over-estimating the correlation. Perhaps I can train myself to make better guesses.Via Flowing Data.

(With the 8-bit graphics, this game looks like it was made in the 1980s for the Mario Brothers).

Monday, February 1, 2016

Learning The Alphabet

Software engineer Erik Bernhardsson took a sample of 50,000 fonts, with characters as varied as shown in the compilation above, and looked for basic underlying structure with a neural network. A neural network is statistically a linear combination of nonlinear functions of linear combinations of input variables. Here, the input variables are digital images of each font character expressed as vectors. Iterative adjustment, termed learning, is applied to produce a linear combination of the inputs. An output estimate of the input character is computed from the other set linear coefficients. All coefficients are chosen to minimize a measure of lack of fit. Bernhardsson then looked at the mean and median of the resulting output characters.
Mean of all the output fonts.
Median of all the output fonts.
Note how readable the mean and median fonts are, when the individual input fonts are extremely varied, as shown above in the first image. He goes on to interpolate fonts, apply random perturbations, and even generate new fonts by sampling from a multivariate normal distribution of the font vectors. 

A mean of a collection of fonts we have seen before using a technique of simple visual averaging.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Miracle of Vaccinations

This interactive graphics from the Wall Street Journal multimedia editors Tynan DeBold and Dov Friedman shows the miracle of vaccinations for the US over the last 80 years. Horizontally, are years from 1928 through to 2012. Vertically, are placed the states, plus DC. A vertical line down the center shows when vaccinations for measles were introduced, in 1963. Each year-state block is heat-coded: red indicating many infections down to dark blue (and even lower light blue and white) with few to no infections. Before 1963, the many years of infections produce a very colorful pattern suitable for a nice beach shirt. After 1963, and measles vaccination, we have a basic blue dress shirt. Here boring is the goal. Basic blue is to be sought. The message is remarkable. Vaccinations are amazingly effective. You can see many more of these vaccination success plots here. These plots have won best visualizations awards for 2015.

Monday, January 18, 2016


Seen on an episode of Major Crimes on TNT, a wear pattern of hand placement in holding a door open. Not many hands are placed low, many more higher, and not many are placed still higher. The frequency of hand wear shows us, yet again, the bell-shaped pattern of wear. Yet Another Door Distribution Again.

Monday, January 11, 2016


Before assisting patients, hospital professionals glove-up from this supply rack in the patient's room. From the gloves that are missing, it appears that Medium and Small gloves are used more frequently than Large or XLarge. Medium and Small workers outnumber others at this hospital.

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year's Resolution: Spot Some Bad Science

Here's your assignment: using one (or more) of the 12 methods in the infographic above spot some bad science this year (from COMPoUND iNTEREST download their graphic here). Let me know your findings. Enjoy and Happy New Year. Via datavizblog.

Monday, December 28, 2015

December Paradox

Why days (solar noon to solar noon) in December are longer than days  in other months, From MinutePhysics. This is a result that surprises many. Our seasons, of course, are caused by the 23.5 degree tilt of the earth's axis. But, by Kepler's first law, The Earth's orbit around the sun is elliptical not circular. We are closer to the Sun in December than in June. For Earth, in obeying Kepler's second law, sweeps out an area, in December, that is equal to a similar area in June. So Earth must  be traveling faster when it is closer to the Sun. This means Earth travels a greater orbital distance in the same time in December than in June. So as we pass by the Sun in December, the Earth must spin around more on its axis for us to look back to see the Sun at the same place in the sky (noon to noon). This makes the length of our day longest in December.

Not statistical, but I love this stuff.