Collaborating Authors

The Underappreciated Man Behind the "Best Graphic Ever Produced"

National Geographic News

Charles Joseph Minard's name is synonymous with an outstanding 1869 graphic depicting the horrific loss of life that Napoleon's army suffered in 1812 and 1813, during its invasion of Russia and subsequent retreat. The graphic (below), which is often referred to simply as "Napoleon's March" or "the Minard graphic," rose to its prominent position in the pantheon of data visualizations largely thanks to praise from one of the field's modern giants, Edward Tufte. In his 1983 classic text, "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information," Tufte declared that Napoleon's March "may well be the best statistical graphic ever produced."

Tufte in R


Major changes in this update: (1) added the first two methods to create Sparklines using Base Graphics and Lattice; (2) the document has become too large to keep on one-page. Its now split into two separate pages-chapters: Chapter 1: Line plot, Boxplot, Barchart and Slopegraph and Chapter 2: Sparklines; (3) corrected overlong lines produces in y-axis when making dot-dash plots with panel.rug()

Bottom line on Data Visualization


The market for data visualization software has bloomed. Companies like Tableau, Spotfire, SAS Visual Analytics, Qlik and Zoomdata are positioning their tools far beyond traditional business intelligence. Capabilities for graphically navigating data, recognizing patterns and finding relationships are growing in both functional and economic scope. These new tools can provide charting forms only imagined in the last decade like word clouds, circular hierarchies, tree maps and stream graphs. Check out the D3 (data driven documents) javascipt library for inspiration.

Keynote Session: Dr. Edward Tufte - The Future of Data Analysis (Channel 9)


Data analysis seeks to learn from experience. Better inferences require better thinking and better tools. Practical advice about how to make more credible conclusions based on data. What we can expect in the future, and what we should aspire to in the future.

Watch: Highlights of the Microsoft Data Science Summit


I just got back from Atlanta, the host of the Microsoft Machine Learning and Data Science Summit. This was the first year for this new conference, and it was a blast: the energy from the 1,000 attendees was palpable. I covered Joseph Sirosh's keynote presentation yesterday, but today I wanted to highlight a few other talks from the program now that the recordings are available to stream. But for me personally, the highlight of the event was the keynote presentation by Dr Edward Tufte on the Future of Data Analysis. I had the distinct honour of introducing Dr Tufte to the stage, who has long been a hero of mine.