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# pi: beautiful

DNA on 10th — street art, wayfinding and font

# visualization + design

The 2019 Pi Day art celebrates digits of $\pi$ with hundreds of languages and alphabets. If you're a kid at heart—rejoice—there's a special edition for you!

# The art of Pi ($\pi$), Phi ($\phi$) and $e$

2019 $\pi$ has hundreds of digits, hundreds of languages and a special kids' edition.
2018 $\pi$ day
2017 $\pi$ day
2016 $\pi$ approximation day
2016 $\pi$ day
2015 $\pi$ day
2014 $\pi$ approx day
2014 $\pi$ day
2013 $\pi$ day
Circular $\pi$ art

Numbers are a lot of fun. They can start conversations—the interesting number paradox is a party favourite: every number must be interesting because the first number that wasn't would be very interesting! Of course, in the wrong company they can just as easily end conversations.

The art here is my attempt at transforming famous numbers in mathematics into pretty visual forms, start some of these conversations and awaken emotions for mathematics—other than dislike and confusion

Like music with numbers? Try Angels at My Door (Una), Pt vs Ys (Yoshinori Sunahara), 2wicky (Hooverphonic), One (Aimee Mann), Straight to Number One (Touch and Go), 99 luftbaloons (Nena).

Numerology is bogus, but art based on numbers can be beautiful. Proclus got it right when he said (as quoted by M. Kline in Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times)

Wherever there is number, there is beauty.

2,258 digits of $\phi$, 3,855 digits of $e$ and 3,628 digits of $\pi$ in 6 level treemaps. Uniform line thickness. Bauhaus prime colors in Piet Mondrian style. (2015 $\pi$ day posters, BUY ARTWORK)
All art posters are available for purchase.
I take custom requests.

## the numbers π, φ and e

The consequence of the interesting number paradox is that all numbers are interesting. But some are more interesting than others—how Orwellian!

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
—George Orwell (Animal Farm)

Numbers such as $\pi$ (or $\tau$ if you're a revolutionary), $\phi$, $e$, $i = \sqrt{-1}$, and $0$ have captivated imagination. Chances are at least one of them appears in the next physics equation you come across.

$π φ e$
$= 3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83279 50288 41971 69399 ... = 1.61803 39887 49894 84820 45868 34365 63811 77203 09179 ... = 2.71828 18284 59045 23536 02874 71352 66249 77572 47093 ...$

Of these three transcendental numbers, $\pi$ (3.14159265...) is the most well known. It is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter ($d = \pi r$) and appears in the formula for the area of the circle ($a = \pi r^2$).

2,258 digits of $\phi$, 3,855 digits of $e$ and 3,628 digits of $\pi$ in 6 level treemaps. Uniform line thickness. Bauhaus prime colors in Piet Mondrian style. (2016 $\pi$ day posters, BUY ARTWORK)

The Golden Ratio ($\phi$, 1.61803398...) is the attractive proportion of values $a > b$ that satisfy ${a+b}/2 = a/b$, which solves to $a/b = {1 + \sqrt{5}}/2$.

The last of the three numbers, $e$ (2.71828182...) is Euler's number and also known as the base of the natural logarithm. It, too, can be defined geometrically—it is the unique real number, $e$, for which the function $f(x) = e^x$ has a tangent of slope 1 at $x=0$. Like $\pi$, $e$ appears throughout mathematics. For example, $e$ is central in the expression for the normal distribution as well as the definition of entropy. And if you've ever heard of someone talking about log plots ... well, there's $e$ again!

Two of these numbers can be seen together in mathematics' most beautiful equation, the Euler identity: $e^{i\pi} = -1$. The tau-oists would argue that this is even prettier: $e^{i\tau} = 1$.

## accidentally similar

Did you notice how the 13th digit of all three numbers is the same (9)? This accidental similarity generates its own number—the Accidental Similarity Number (ASN).

VIEW ALL

# Markov Chains

Tue 30-07-2019

You can look back there to explain things,
but the explanation disappears.
You'll never find it there.
Things are not explained by the past.
They're explained by what happens now.
—Alan Watts

A Markov chain is a probabilistic model that is used to model how a system changes over time as a series of transitions between states. Each transition is assigned a probability that defines the chance of the system changing from one state to another.

Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Markov Chains. (read)

Together with the states, these transitions probabilities define a stochastic model with the Markov property: transition probabilities only depend on the current state—the future is independent of the past if the present is known.

Once the transition probabilities are defined in matrix form, it is easy to predict the distribution of future states of the system. We cover concepts of aperiodicity, irreducibility, limiting and stationary distributions and absorption.

This column is the first part of a series and pairs particularly well with Alan Watts and Blond:ish.

Grewal, J., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2019) Points of significance: Markov Chains. Nature Methods 16:663–664.

# 1-bit zoomable gigapixel maps of Moon, Solar System and Sky

Mon 22-07-2019

Places to go and nobody to see.

Exquisitely detailed maps of places on the Moon, comets and asteroids in the Solar System and stars, deep-sky objects and exoplanets in the northern and southern sky. All maps are zoomable.

3.6 gigapixel map of the near side of the Moon, annotated with 6,733. (details)
100 megapixel and 10 gigapixel map of the Solar System on 20 July 2019, annotated with 758k asteroids, 1.3k comets and all planets and satellites. (details)
100 megapixle and 10 gigapixel map of the Northern Celestial Hemisphere, annotated with 44 million stars, 74,000 deep-sky objects and 3,000 exoplanets. (details)
100 megapixle and 10 gigapixel map of the Southern Celestial Hemisphere, annotated with 69 million stars, 88,000 deep-sky objects and 1000 exoplanets. (details)

# Quantile regression

Sat 01-06-2019
Quantile regression robustly estimates the typical and extreme values of a response.

Quantile regression explores the effect of one or more predictors on quantiles of the response. It can answer questions such as "What is the weight of 90% of individuals of a given height?"

Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Quantile regression. (read)

Unlike in traditional mean regression methods, no assumptions about the distribution of the response are required, which makes it practical, robust and amenable to skewed distributions.

Quantile regression is also very useful when extremes are interesting or when the response variance varies with the predictors.

Das, K., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2019) Points of significance: Quantile regression. Nature Methods 16:451–452.

Altman, N. & Krzywinski, M. (2015) Points of significance: Simple linear regression. Nature Methods 12:999–1000.

# 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

116 digits in 64 languages. (details)
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.