[R] [OT] vernacular names for circular diagrams

hadley wickham h.wickham at gmail.com
Tue Jan 29 01:28:25 CET 2008

On Jan 28, 2008 1:25 PM, Greg Snow <Greg.Snow at imail.org> wrote:
> I had heard the same thing about Florence Nightingale, but it seems that this is a confusion of different graphs.
> Nightingale developed a graph based on a circle, but all the angles were equal and the different values were encoded by using different radii of the slices (and she did the right thing by having the radius proportional to the square root of the value).  She never named this plot, but I have seen coxcomb (Nightingale refered to the document in which this graph first appeared as the coxcomb) or rotogram used as names.  At first glance this may be confused for a pie chart, hence the credit, but in truth I think Nightingale is innocent of the crime of creating the first pie chart.

"An example of "Stigler's Law of Eponomy" (Stigler, 1980),
Nightingale's Coxcomb chart did not orignate with her, though this
should not detract from her credit. She likely got the idea from
William Farr, a close friend and frequent correspondent, who used the
same graphic principles in 1852. The earliest known inventor of polar
area charts is Andre-Michel Guerry (1829)."

 --- Michael Friendly via http://www.math.yorku.ca/SCS/Gallery/historical.html



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