Sunday, June 29, 2014

On the origins of the scatter plot

Above, a scatter plot by
Francis Galton
Chapter fifteen of How Not to Be Wrong, a book that I recommended a couple of posts ago, talks about John Herschel, Francis Galton, and the history of the scatter plot. I had read about this in Howard Wainer's Picturing the Uncertain World but I got curious and did a quick search in Google. I wanted to take a look at Galton's and Herschel's charts. And here's what I found: Michael Friendly's and Daniel Denis' ‘The early origins and development of the scatterplot’ (Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 2005.) Quoting:
“Among all the forms of statistical graphics, the humble scatterplot may be considered the most versatile, polymorphic, and generally useful invention in the entire history of statistical graphics.”
Friendly and Denis also cover connected scatter plots, the Phillips Curve —“one of the most famous curves in economic theory” (see below,)— the scatter plot matrix, etc. Don't miss the article.