Scatter plots with images

September 4th, 2011

Edward Tufte has written extensively on the presentation of data covering good and bad practice. He has made a number of suggestions for adaptations of regularly used graph types to assist with the interpretation and understanding of data.

One idea for enhancing scatter plots covered in Tufte’s book Beautiful Evidence is the use of images in place of traditional symbols to provide additional information about that point. To illustrate this idea I have taken the batting data from the recent test series between England and India played in England 2011. The graph is a display of the number of runs scored and number of balls faced with an English or Indian flag indicating the team of the player involved. The graph can be seen here and this has an advantage over the usual scatter plot as there is no need for a legend to accompany the graph.

Other useful resources are provided on the Supplementary Material page.

5 responses to “Scatter plots with images”

  1. nikhil says:

    The only suggestion I would make is to swap the axis. For e.g., scoring more runs in fewer balls is (presumably) better and swapping axis would put the flag of a country with a better batting average higher. That sort of takes away the ambiguity and is probably the point of Tufte’s suggestion for using images.

  2. Would you kindly post the code?

  3. Ralph says:

    Nikhil – that would probably be more intuitive for the people to interpret.

  4. Bill says:

    I’d like to see the code for this, too. It would help for some data I have involving rating the attractiveness and intelligence of a series a photos. A scatterplot that referenced each photo would be perfect!

  5. Doug says:

    Another vote for the code!