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# numbers: fun

Scientific graphical abstracts — design guidelines

# visualization + design

81 digits of $\pi$ as a forest of trees: standard, bat cave and underwater editions. ( BUY ARTWORK )
The 2021 Pi Day art celebrates the digits of $\pi$ with a forest! Visit the bat cave and underwater ecosystems for the full experience.

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

2021 $\pi$ reminds us that good things grow for those who wait.' edition.
2019 $\pi$ has hundreds of digits, hundreds of languages and a special kids' edition.
2018 $\pi$ day stitches street maps into new destinations.
2017 $\pi$ day imagines the sky in a new way.

2016 $\pi$ approximation day wonders what would happen if about right was right.
2016 $\pi$ day sees digits really fall for each other.
2015 $\pi$ day maps transcendentally.
2014 $\pi$ approx day spirals into roughness.

2014 $\pi$ day hypnotizes you into looking.
2014 $\pi$ day
2013 $\pi$ day is where it started
Circular $\pi$ art and other distractions

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 )
Most of the art is available for purchase as framed prints and, yes, even pillows. Sleep's never been more important — 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).

# Happy 2021 $\pi$ Day—A forest of digits

Sun 14-03-2021

Celebrate $\pi$ Day (March 14th) and finally see the digits through the forest.

The 26th tree in the digit forest of $\pi$. Why is there a flower on the ground?. (details)

This year is full of botanical whimsy. A Lindenmayer system forest – deterministic but always changing. Feel free to stop and pick the flowers from the ground.

The first 46 digits of $\pi$ in 8 trees. There are so many more. (details)

And things can get crazy in the forest.

A forest of the digits of '\pi$, by ecosystem. (details) Check out art from previous years: 2013$\pi$Day and 2014$\pi$Day, 2015$\pi$Day, 2016$\pi$Day, 2017$\pi$Day, 2018$\pi$Day and 2019$\pi` Day.

# Testing for rare conditions

Tue 16-03-2021

All that glitters is not gold. —W. Shakespeare

The sensitivity and specificity of a test do not necessarily correspond to its error rate. This becomes critically important when testing for a rare condition — a test with 99% sensitivity and specificity has an even chance of being wrong when the condition prevalence is 1%.

We discuss the positive predictive value (PPV) and how practices such as screen can increase it.

Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Testing for rare conditions. (read)

Altman, N. & Krzywinski, M. (2021) Points of significance: Testing for rare conditions. Nature Methods 18

# Standardization fallacy

Tue 09-02-2021

We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty! —D. Adams

A popular notion about experiments is that it's good to keep variability in subjects low to limit the influence of confounding factors. This is called standardization.

Unfortunately, although standardization increases power, it can induce unrealistically low variability and lead to results that do not generalize to the population of interest. And, in fact, may be irreproducible.

Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Standardization fallacy. (read)

Not paying attention to these details and thinking (or hoping) that standardization is always good is the "standardization fallacy". In this column, we look at how standardization can be balanced with heterogenization to avoid this thorny issue.

Voelkl, B., Würbel, H., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2021) Points of significance: Standardization fallacy. Nature Methods 18:5–6.

# Graphical Abstract Design Guidelines

Fri 13-11-2020

Clear, concise, legible and compelling.

Making a scientific graphical abstract? Refer to my practical design guidelines and redesign examples to improve organization, design and clarity of your graphical abstracts.

Graphical Abstract Design Guidelines — Clear, concise, legible and compelling.

# "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.

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.

Analysis of word usage by parts of speech for Trump and Biden reveals insight into each candidate.