[R] perception of graphical data

roger koenker rkoenker at uiuc.edu
Fri Aug 24 19:48:38 CEST 2007

You might want to look at the cartogram literature.  See e.g.


I don't know of an R implementation of this sort of thing, but
perhaps others can correct me.

url:    www.econ.uiuc.edu/~roger            Roger Koenker
email    rkoenker at uiuc.edu            Department of Economics
vox:     217-333-4558                University of Illinois
fax:       217-244-6678                Champaign, IL 61820

On Aug 24, 2007, at 12:30 PM, Yeh, Richard C wrote:

> Hello,
> I apologize that this is off-topic.  I am seeking information on
> perception of graphical data, in an effort to improve the plots I
> produce.  Would anyone point me to literature reviews in this  
> area?  (Or
> keywords to try on google?)  Is this located somewhere near cognitive
> science, psychology, human factors research?
> For example, some specific questions I have are:
> I recall as a child when I first saw a map where the areas of the
> containers (geographical states) were drawn as rectangles,  
> proportional
> to a quantity other than land area.  Does anyone know of an algorithm
> for drawing such maps?  Would anyone know of a journal or reference
> where I can find studies on whether subjects reading these maps can
> accurately assess the meaning of the different areas, as [some of us]
> can assess different heights on a bar graph?  (What about areas in bar
> graphs with non-uniform widths?)
> Scatter plots of microarray data often attempt to represent  
> thousands or
> tens of thousands of points, but all I read from them are density and
> distribution --- the gene names cannot be shown.  At what point,  
> would a
> sunflowerplot-like display or a smooth gradient be better?  When two
> data points drawn as 50% gray disks are small and tangent, are they
> perceptually equivalent to a single, 100% black disk?  Or a 50% gray
> disk with twice the area?  What problems are known about plotting with
> disks --- do viewers use the area or the diameter (or neither) to  
> gauge
> weight?
> As you can tell, I'm a non-expert, mixing issues of data  
> interpretation,
> visual perception, graphic representation.  Previously, I didn't have
> the flexibility of R's graphics, so I didn't need to think so much.
> I've read some of Edward S. Tufte's books, but found them more
> qualitative than quantitative.
> Thanks!
> Richard
> 212-933-3305 / richard.c.yeh at bankofamerica.com
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