Graphical Methods in Computational Statistics

  • James E. Gentle
Part of the Statistics and Computing book series (SCO)


One of the first steps in attempting to understand data is to visualize it. Visualization of data and information provides a wealth of tools that can be used in detecting features, in discovering relationships, and finally in retaining the knowledge gained. Graphical displays have always been an important part of statistical data analysis, but with the continuing developments in high-speed computers and high-resolution devices, the usefulness of graphics has greatly increased. Higher resolution makes for a more visually pleasing display, and occasionally it allows features to be seen that could not be distinguished otherwise. The most important effects of the computer on graphical methods in statistics, however, arise from the ease and speed with which graphical displays can be produced, rather than from the resolution. Rapid production of graphical displays has introduced motion and articulated projections and sections into statistical graphics. Such graphical methods are important tools of computational statistics. The multiple views are tools of discovery, not just ways of displaying a set of data that has already been analyzed. Although the power of graphical displays has greatly increased, some of the most useful graphs are the simple ones, as illustrated in Section 1.1, and they should not be ignored just because we can do more impressive things. Proper design of a graphical display depends on the context of the application and the purpose of the graphics, whether it is for the analyst to get a better understanding of the data or to present a picture that conveys a message. Our emphasis in the following discussion is on methods useful in exploratory graphics. One thing that is lagging in the statistical literature is the use of color in graphical displays. The simple mechanics used in producing popular magazines are yet to be incorporated in the production of learned journals. Journals available in electronic form do not have these production problems, and it is likely that the paper versions of many journals will be discontinued before the production of color is mastered.


Computational Statistics Graphical Method Bernstein Polynomial World Coordinate System Wire Frame 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computational & Data SciencesGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

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