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numbers: exciting


DNA on 10th — street art, wayfinding and font


visualization + design

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
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!

`\pi` Approximation Day Art Posters


Pi Day 2014 Art Poster - Folding the Number Pi
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
2019 `\pi` has hundreds of digits, hundreds of languages and a special kids' edition.

Pi Day 2014 Art Poster - Folding the Number Pi
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
2018 `\pi` day

Pi Day 2014 Art Poster - Folding the Number Pi
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
2017 `\pi` day

Pi Day 2014 Art Poster - Folding the Number Pi
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
2016 `\pi` approximation day

Pi Day 2014 Art Poster - Folding the Number Pi
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
2016 `\pi` day

Pi Day 2014 Art Poster - Folding the Number Pi
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
2015 `\pi` day

Pi Day 2014 Art Poster - Folding the Number Pi
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
2014 `\pi` approx day

Pi Day 2014 Art Poster - Folding the Number Pi
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
2014 `\pi` day

Pi Day 2014 Art Poster - Folding the Number Pi
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
2013 `\pi` day

Pi Day 2014 Art Poster - Folding the Number Pi
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Circular `\pi` art

The never-repeating digits of `\pi` can be approximated by 22/7 = 3.142857 to within 0.04%. These pages artistically and mathematically explore rational approximations to `\pi`. This 22/7 ratio is celebrated each year on July 22nd. If you like hand waving or back-of-envelope mathematics, this day is for you: `\pi` approximation day!

Want more math + art? Discover the Accidental Similarity Number. Find humor in my poster of the first 2,000 4s of `\pi`.

There are two kinds of `\pi` Approximation Day posters.

The first uses the Archimedean spiral for its design, which I've used before for other numerical art. The second packs warped circles, whose ratio of circumference to average diameter is `22/7` into what I call `\pi`-approximate circular packing.

As you probably know, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is `\pi`. $$ C / d = \pi $$

For `\pi` approximation day, let's ask what would happen if $$ C / d = 22/7 $$

where now `C` is the circumference of some shape other than a circle. What could this shape be?

A good place to start is to think about an ellipse. I've done this before in the 22/7 Universe article, in which I considered an ellipse with a major axis of `r+\delta` and a minor axis of `r` and solved for `\delta` such that the circumference of the ellipse divided by `2 r` would be `22/7`. Doing so means numerically solving the equation $$ \frac{C(r,r+\delta)}{2r} = 22/7 $$

where `r + \delta` is the major axis, `r` is the minor axis and `C(r,r+\delta)` is the circumference of the ellipse. Substituting the expression for the circumference, $$ 4(r+\delta) \int_0^{\pi/2} \sqrt { 1 - \left(1-\frac{r}{(r+\delta)^2}\right)\sin^2 \theta } d \theta = 2 r \frac{22}{7}$$

If we set `r=1` and solve it turns out that only a very minor deformation is required and `\delta = 0.0008`. You can verify this at Wolfram Alpha.

I wanted to make some art based on the shape of the this ellipse, but a deformation of 0.08% is not perceptible. So I came up with a slightly different approach to how I define the original circumference-to-diameter ratio.

Instead of treating the diameter as `r` and using `r + \delta` as the major axis, I now define the diameter as twice the average radius, or `2r + \delta`. This means that the equation to solve is $$ \frac{C(r,r+\delta)}{2r+\delta} = 22/7 $$

As before, setting `r=1` and substituting the expression for the circumference of an ellipse, we get $$ 4(1+\delta) \int_0^{\pi/2} \sqrt { 1 - \left(1-\frac{1}{(1+\delta)^2}\right)\sin^2 \theta } d \theta = (2+\delta) \frac{22}{7}$$

and solving this for `\delta` find $$ \delta = 0.083599769... $$

You can verify this at Wolfram Alpha.

This is a more useable approach since an 8% warping of a circle can be easily perceived.

Pi Approximation Day Art Poster / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
The ratio of the circumference of a circle, `C(r)`, to its dimameter, `2r`, is `\pi`. If we warp the circle by 8%, the corresponding ratio, if we use twice the average radius as the diameter, is 22/7. This deformation can be easily identified.

Below is matrix of perfect circles along side the 8% deformed circles.

Pi Approximation Day Art Poster / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
A matrix of perfect circles and ones which have been stretched by 8% along one axis and then randomly rotated. The deformed circles embody the `\pi` approximation of 22/7.

The art posters are based on a packing of these deformed circles.

Pi Approximation Day Art Poster / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Warped circles, packed.
Pi Approximation Day Art Poster / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Even more warped circles, packed.

By superimposing perfect circles on the warped circles, fun patterns appear.

Pi Approximation Day Art Poster / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Superposition of perfect and warped circles, packed.

perfect vs approximate packing

If you pack perfect circles perfectly, the area occupied by the circles is `\pi/4 = 78.5%`.

What is the area occupied by perfect packing of warped and randomly rotated (like in the posters) circles?

color scheme

To motivate choice of colors, I chose images with a 1970's feel.

Pi Approximation Day Art Poster / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Images used for color schemes. The colors of each image were grouped into clusters—8 for the first two images and 6 for the third—to obtain proportions of representative colors.

Using my color summarizer, I analyzed each image for its representative colors. Using these colors and their proportions, I colored the perfect and warped circles.

Pi Approximation Day Art Poster / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Packed warped circles colored in proportion to color schemes derived from the images above.

For each poster of these color schemes, two poster versions are available. In one, the perfect cirlces are shown with warped circles as a clip mask. In the other, warped circles are shown, clipped by perfect circles.

VIEW ALL

news + thoughts

Hola Mundo Cover

Sat 21-09-2019

My cover design for Hola Mundo by Hannah Fry. Published by Blackie Books.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Hola Mundo by Hannah Fry. Cover design is based on my 2013 `\pi` day art. (read)

Curious how the design was created? Read the full details.

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.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
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.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
3.6 gigapixel map of the near side of the Moon, annotated with 6,733. (details)
Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
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)
Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
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)
Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
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?"

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
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.

Background reading

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.

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.