Preface: It All Begins with a Spark

Why is it that when one man builds a wall, the next man immediately needs to know what’s on the other side?

—Tyrion Lannister in George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones

There’s probably something you don’t know about college professors: we tend to have peculiar hobbies.

In October 2014, I spent my entire fall recess catching up with R, a programming language for statistical analysis; ggplot2, an R library that creates nice-looking charts; and Tableau, a data visualization program.1 Learning any software tool without using it is impossible, so I needed some data to play with, and not just any data, but data I could care about.

1 I hope that this doesn’t impress you. I am by no means an advanced user of any of ...

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