Martin Krzywinski / Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre / mkweb.bcgsc.ca Martin Krzywinski / Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - contact me Martin Krzywinski / Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre / mkweb.bcgsc.ca on Twitter Martin Krzywinski / Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Lumondo Photography Martin Krzywinski / Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Pi Art Martin Krzywinski / Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Hilbertonians - Creatures on the Hilbert CurveMartin Krzywinski / Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Pi Day 2020 - Piku
listen; there's a hell of a good universe next door: let's go.e.e. cummingsgo theremore quotes

magenta: informative


The Outbreak Poems — artistic emissions in a pandemic


data visualization + design
POSTER HOSPITAL
If you're interested in posters and creating data stories, ready my Effective Poster Design for Science Communication, which shows many redesign examples. Download the handy poster template that's also a poster about making posters.

"This figure might give you a migrane"

What happens when a friend sends me a bad figure

Sometimes, I get emails that look like this

   Sent: Monday, July 29, 2019 at 07:59
   From: Jasleen Grewal
Subject: This figure may give you a migrane

As you can see, 100% of the graphs are ineffective.
BMI and prevalence for 185 countries by Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Each ring plot shows the fraction of population with a BMI ≥ 25 in a country. A page from Atlas der Globaliesierung: Welt in Bewegung, by Stefan Mahike (2019)

Here, I wanted to take you through my reaction to the figure, which was quick, and the redesign, which wasn't quick.

text labels — it's a hard life

I'm always on the lookout for abused text. So here I cried. A lot.

BMI and prevalence for 185 countries by Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
A large fraction of labels either barely fit or don't fit. Some are hyphenated and some of those still don't fit. A page from Atlas der Globaliesierung: Welt in Bewegung, by Stefan Mahike (2019)

strangely structured legend

Do we really need a footnote inside the legend? The globe? The hyphenated "Body-Mass-Index". By this point, I really could feel that migrane.

BMI and prevalence for 185 countries by Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
For a simple encoding, the legend is quite complex. From a page from Atlas der Globaliesierung: Welt in Bewegung, by Stefan Mahike (2019)

here's the graphic — now what?

What question's does this figure answer? Here's my list, with answers.

1. How many countries are there in the world? A lot.

2. What is the range of BMI ≥ 25 prevalence? 18—89.

3. Who has the lowest and highest prevalence? Vietnam and Nauru.

4. What is the median prevalence? Probably 55 and answering this is only made easy by the fact that the book's spine splits the plot into largely two equal halves

5. What is the prevalence where I live (e.g. Canada)? I gave up trying to find "Kanada".

Essentially, the two-page figure of ring charts is equivalent to the summary

BMI and prevalence for 185 countries by Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
This figure answers the same questions as the two-page spread for all but the most patient.

critique by redesign

It's obvious what's wrong with the figure. How do you fix it?

Using the list of countries by body mass index, I created a poster that tells interesting stories about how high BMI and obesity vary across countries and genders.

I describe the design and stories in the poster in the design section.

BMI and prevalence for 185 countries by Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
My redesign of the original figure showing preBMI ≥ 25 and obesity prevalence in 185 countries.

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news + thoughts

"This data might give you a migrane"

Tue 06-10-2020

An in-depth look at my process of reacting to a bad figure — how I design a poster and tell data stories.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
A poster of high BMI and obesity prevalence for 185 countries.

He said, he said — a word analysis of the 2020 Presidential Debates

Thu 01-10-2020

Building on the method I used to analyze the 2008, 2012 and 2016 U.S. Presidential and Vice Presidential debates, I explore word usagein the 2020 Debates between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Analysis of word usage by parts of speech for Trump and Biden reveals insight into each candidate.

Points of Significance celebrates 50th column

Mon 24-08-2020

We are celebrating the publication of our 50th column!

To all our coauthors — thank you and see you in the next column!

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance: Celebrating 50 columns of clear explanations of statistics. (read)

Uncertainty and the management of epidemics

Mon 24-08-2020

When modelling epidemics, some uncertainties matter more than others.

Public health policy is always hampered by uncertainty. During a novel outbreak, nearly everything will be uncertain: the mode of transmission, the duration and population variability of latency, infection and protective immunity and, critically, whether the outbreak will fade out or turn into a major epidemic.

The uncertainty may be structural (which model?), parametric (what is `R_0`?), and/or operational (how well do masks work?).

This month, we continue our exploration of epidemiological models and look at how uncertainty affects forecasts of disease dynamics and optimization of intervention strategies.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Uncertainty and the management of epidemics. (read)

We show how the impact of the uncertainty on any choice in strategy can be expressed using the Expected Value of Perfect Information (EVPI), which is the potential improvement in outcomes that could be obtained if the uncertainty is resolved before making a decision on the intervention strategy. In other words, by how much could we potentially increase effectiveness of our choice (e.g. lowering total disease burden) if we knew which model best reflects reality?

This column has an interactive supplemental component (download code) that allows you to explore the impact of uncertainty in `R_0` and immunity duration on timing and size of epidemic waves and the total burden of the outbreak and calculate EVPI for various outbreak models and scenarios.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Uncertainty and the management of epidemics. (Interactive supplemental materials)

Bjørnstad, O.N., Shea, K., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2020) Points of significance: Uncertainty and the management of epidemics. Nature Methods 17.

Background reading

Bjørnstad, O.N., Shea, K., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2020) Points of significance: Modeling infectious epidemics. Nature Methods 17:455–456.

Bjørnstad, O.N., Shea, K., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2020) Points of significance: The SEIRS model for infectious disease dynamics. Nature Methods 17:557–558.

Cover of Nature Genetics August 2020

Mon 03-08-2020

Our design on the cover of Nature Genetics's August 2020 issue is “Dichotomy of Chromatin in Color” . Thanks to Dr. Andy Mungall for suggesting this terrific title.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Dichotomy of Chromatin in Color. Nature Genetics, August 2020 issue. (read more)

The cover design accompanies our report in the issue Gagliardi, A., Porter, V.L., Zong, Z. et al. (2020) Analysis of Ugandan cervical carcinomas identifies human papillomavirus clade–specific epigenome and transcriptome landscapes. Nature Genetics 52:800–810.