If you're given a set of data values, the following are questions you might ask. Is there a good way to represent these data in a meaningful way, so that I can see what's the overall shape or trend of the values? How can I estimate new data values that lie between the given values, so that the new ones “fit in” with this shape or trend? Can I generate new values that approximate the original values?

If you can cast the data as a set of points in the *xy* plane, a very useful way to answer these questions is to draw a graph of the data. There are two types of graphs you can draw. If the set of data values is small, say 10 values or fewer, you can try to plot a curve that goes *through* all of the points. Or ...

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