Why is data visualization so important in statistics, anyway? Graphs and other kinds of visualizations might seem superfluous, if you’re using statistical analysis to look for patterns in a data set, right? Short answer: wrong.
A new research paper presented this week at the human-computer interaction conference ACM CHI shows just how important it is to visualize your data. In it, two Autodesk researchers show how 12 data sets that share the same basic qualities, like mean, standard deviation, and Pearson’s correlation, can look radically different as graphs. The data sets might have a lot in common on paper, but as visualizations they form stars, circles, and other shapes. The point? To show that data visualization isn’t just aesthetic–it’s a crucial part of analysis that can reveal surprising things about your data.