Chapter 9. Visualizing Many Distributions at Once

There are many scenarios in which we want to visualize multiple distributions at the same time. For example, consider weather data. We may want to visualize how temperature varies across different months while also showing the distribution of observed temperatures within each month. This scenario requires showing a dozen temperature distributions at once, one for each month. None of the visualizations discussed in Chapters 7 or 8 work well in this case. Instead, viable approaches include boxplots, violin plots, and ridgeline plots.

Whenever we are dealing with many distributions, it is helpful to think in terms of the response variable and one or more grouping variables. The response variable is the variable whose distributions we want to show. The grouping variables define subsets of the data with distinct distributions of the response variable. For example, for temperature distributions across months, the response variable is the temperature and the grouping variable is the month. All techniques discussed in this chapter draw the response variable along one axis and the grouping variable(s) along the other. In the following sections, I will first describe approaches that show the response variable along the vertical axis, and then I will describe approaches that show the response variable along the horizontal axis. In all cases discussed, we could flip the axes and arrive at an alternative and viable visualization. I am showing ...

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