Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - contact me Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca on Twitter Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Lumondo Photography Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Pi Art Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Hilbertonians - Creatures on the Hilbert Curve
This love's a nameless dream.Cocteau Twinstry to figure it outmore quotes

DNA on 10th — street art, wayfinding and font


data visualization + art

Genes that make us sick

It is said that for money you can have everything, but you cannot. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; knowledge, but not wisdom; glitter, but not beauty; fun, but not joy; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness; leisure, but not peace. You can have the husk of everything for money, but not the kernel.
— Arne Garborg

I have recently had the opportunity to contribute to The Objects that Power the Global Economy, a book by Quartz.

The book is about objects that have impact on our world and our lives. "Each chapter of this book examines an object that is driving radical change in the global economy: how we communicate, what we eat, the way we spend our money. The stories are told through global reporting, original photography and illustration by award-winning artists, contributions from business visionaries, data visualization, and interactive features." (Quartz).

the posters

The human genome is shown as a spiral, starting at the top with chromosome 1 and proceeding clockwise. The spiral is formed by 10,087 segments that correspond to 286,000 bases each. Segments that contain genes implicated in disease are indicated by dots, sized by the number of genes. Chromosomes X and Y are not shown.


 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
White on black, full version. (BUY ARTWORK)

 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
White on black, mysterious version. (BUY ARTWORK)

 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Color, full version. (BUY ARTWORK)

 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Color, mysterious version. (BUY ARTWORK)

 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Black on white, full version. (BUY ARTWORK)

 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Black on white, mysterious version. (BUY ARTWORK)

where disease hides in the genome

My illustration is of the human genome with a focus on the genes that have been implicated in disease.

We have about 30,000 genes and about half of these play some role in disease.

You can peruse what we know about the connection between genetics and illness at the Online Mendelean Inheritance of Man database. For example, a cursory search for "cancer" results in over 3,500 entries.

It's important to realize that these aren't genes that cause disease—its misregulation and mutations in them that are associated with disease (causality is complicated).

the visualization

The illustration shows the genome as a single line, wound in an Archimedean spiral. Chromosomes 1–22 are shown binned into about 10,000 regions along the spiral. Regions that have genes associated with disease are marked with dots—the size of the dot shows how many such genes are found. Each region corresponds to about 286,000 bases.

In about 73% of the 286 kb regions, there are no genes. In about 18%, there is a single gene and in roughly 11% two genes or more.

  regions  genes
    7,321  0
    1,812  1
      556  2
      221  3
       85  4
       93  5+

Winding the genome up in a spiral creates a compact representation. Squishing a line onto a page can be tricky.

Luckily, space filling curves like the Hilbert curve are very efficient at doing this. I've previously shown the genome along a Hilbert curve for a Scientific American Graphic Science page.

the artwork

In the book, the image is printed on a black background.


 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
The human genome is shown as a spiral, starting at the top with chromosome 1 and proceeding clockwise. The spiral is formed by 10,087 segments that correspond to 286,000 bases each. Segments that contain genes implicated in disease are indicated by dots, sized by the number of genes. Chromosomes X and Y are not shown. (zoom)
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news + thoughts

Analyzing outliers: Robust methods to the rescue

Sat 30-03-2019
Robust regression generates more reliable estimates by detecting and downweighting outliers.

Outliers can degrade the fit of linear regression models when the estimation is performed using the ordinary least squares. The impact of outliers can be mitigated with methods that provide robust inference and greater reliability in the presence of anomalous values.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Analyzing outliers: Robust methods to the rescue. (read)

We discuss MM-estimation and show how it can be used to keep your fitting sane and reliable.

Greco, L., Luta, G., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2019) Points of significance: Analyzing outliers: Robust methods to the rescue. Nature Methods 16:275–276.

Background reading

Altman, N. & Krzywinski, M. (2016) Points of significance: Analyzing outliers: Influential or nuisance. Nature Methods 13:281–282.

Two-level factorial experiments

Fri 22-03-2019
To find which experimental factors have an effect, simultaneously examine the difference between the high and low levels of each.

Two-level factorial experiments, in which all combinations of multiple factor levels are used, efficiently estimate factor effects and detect interactions—desirable statistical qualities that can provide deep insight into a system.

They offer two benefits over the widely used one-factor-at-a-time (OFAT) experiments: efficiency and ability to detect interactions.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Two-level factorial experiments. (read)

Since the number of factor combinations can quickly increase, one approach is to model only some of the factorial effects using empirically-validated assumptions of effect sparsity and effect hierarchy. Effect sparsity tells us that in factorial experiments most of the factorial terms are likely to be unimportant. Effect hierarchy tells us that low-order terms (e.g. main effects) tend to be larger than higher-order terms (e.g. two-factor or three-factor interactions).

Smucker, B., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2019) Points of significance: Two-level factorial experiments Nature Methods 16:211–212.

Background reading

Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of significance: Designing comparative experiments.. Nature Methods 11:597–598.

Happy 2019 `\pi` Day—
Digits, internationally

Tue 12-03-2019

Celebrate `\pi` Day (March 14th) and set out on an exploration explore accents unknown (to you)!

This year is purely typographical, with something for everyone. Hundreds of digits and hundreds of languages.

A special kids' edition merges math with color and fat fonts.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
116 digits in 64 languages. (details)
Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
223 digits in 102 languages. (details)

Check out art from previous years: 2013 `\pi` Day and 2014 `\pi` Day, 2015 `\pi` Day, 2016 `\pi` Day, 2017 `\pi` Day and 2018 `\pi` Day.

Tree of Emotional Life

Sun 17-02-2019

One moment you're :) and the next you're :-.

Make sense of it all with my Tree of Emotional life—a hierarchical account of how we feel.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
A section of the Tree of Emotional Life.

Find and snap to colors in an image

Sat 29-12-2018

One of my color tools, the colorsnap application snaps colors in an image to a set of reference colors and reports their proportion.

Below is Times Square rendered using the colors of the MTA subway lines.


Colors used by the New York MTA subway lines.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Times Square in New York City.
Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Times Square in New York City rendered using colors of the MTA subway lines.
Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Granger rainbow snapped to subway lines colors from four cities. (zoom)

Take your medicine ... now

Wed 19-12-2018

Drugs could be more effective if taken when the genetic proteins they target are most active.

Design tip: rediscover CMYK primaries.

More of my American Scientific Graphic Science designs

Ruben et al. A database of tissue-specific rhythmically expressed human genes has potential applications in circadian medicine Science Translational Medicine 10 Issue 458, eaat8806.