8. A Sense of Order

This chapter is mostly about comparing data points. Some of the tasks you can do when comparing data points are ordering, sorting, and ranking. Comparisons are found everywhere in data visualization, so much so that Edward Tufte says that “compared with what?” is “the deep, fundamental question in statistical analysis.”1 In a more or less explicit way, you’ll find comparisons at the heart of every category in our chart classification. If you aren’t comparing data points, you’re comparing trends or profiles.

1 Tufte, Edward. Visual Explanations, Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press. 1997.

So, in this chapter we’ll be comparing things but in a very strict sense: We’re working at the data point level, with points that are ordered, sorted, ...

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