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visualization: revealing


EMBO Practical Course: Bioinformatics and Genome Analysis, 5–17 June 2017.


data visualization + art

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
The BC Cancer Agency’s Personalized Oncogenomics Program (POG) is a clinical research initiative applying genomic sequencing to the diagnosis and treatment of patients with incurable cancers.

Art of the Personalized Oncogenomics Program

Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.
— Richard Feynman

Art is Science in Love
— E.F. Weisslitz

what do the circles mean?

The legend can be printed at 4" × 6". The bitmap resolution is 600 dpi.


 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Quick legend. 5 Years of Personalized Oncogenomics Project at Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre. The poster shows 545 cancer cases. (zoom)

a case for a visual case summary

For every case, we sequence the DNA to study the genome structure and the RNA to discover which genes are expressed and to what extent. The analysis is quite complex and brings together many steps: sequence alignment, structural variation detection, expression profiling, pathway analysis and so on. Every case is "summarized" by a lengthy report, such as the one below, which can run to over 40 pages.

Personalized Oncogenomics Program at Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Center / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
A report for a typical POG case is about 40–50 pages.

One of the goals of the 5-year anniversary art was to represent the cases in a way to clearly show their number, classification as well as diversity. There are many metrics that can be used and I decided to choose the case's correlation to other cancer types.

correlation to TCGA cancer database

For every POG case, the gene expression of 1,744 key genes is compared to that of 1,000's of cases in the TCGA database of cancer samples. For a given cancer type in the TCGA database (e.g. BRCA), we visualize the correlations using box plots. The box plot is ideal for showing the distribution of values in a sample.

Personalized Oncogenomics Program at Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Center / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Every case is compared to a database of 1,000's of cases. Shown here are box plots for the Spearman correlation coefficient between the gene expression of the POG case and cancers of a specific type (e.g. BRCA, LUAD, etc). (zoom)

The 10 largest Spearman correlation coefficients for the case shown above are

case    corr    type     tissue
-----------------------------------------------
POG661	0.436	BRCA	 Breast
POG661	0.371	PRAD	 Urologic
POG661	0.295	OV	 Gynecologic
POG661	0.257	UCEC	 Gynecologic
POG661	0.244	LUAD	 Thoracic
POG661	0.235	CESC_CAD Gynecologic
POG661	0.225	MB_Adult Central Nervous System
POG661	0.222	KICH	 Urologic
POG661	0.219	THCA	 Endocrine
POG661	0.208	UCS	 Gynecologic

In the figure below I show how the final encoding of the correlations is done. First, the top three correlations are taken—using more generates a busy look and diminishes visual impact. The correlations are encoded as concentric rings.

Because in most cases the differences in the top 3 correlations are relatively small, differences are emphasized by non-linearly scaling the encoding (the correlations are first scaled `r^3`).

Personalized Oncogenomics Program at Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Center / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Case POG661. Median gene expression correlations with different cancer types from TCGA database. (A) Top 10 correlations shown as a bar plot. Color coding is by source tissue associated with the cancer type. (B) Top 10 correlations encoded as concentric rings. The width of the ring is proportional to the correlation. (C) Top 3 correlations. (D) Top 3 correlations scaled with a power to emphasize differences. (zoom)

The type face is Proxima Nova. The colors for each tissue source are

         Gastrointestinal  234,62,144
                   Breast  237,75,51
                 Thoracic  242,130,56
              Gynecologic  253,188,61
              Soft tissue  244,217,59
                     Skin  193,216,51
                 Urologic  114,197,49
              Hematologic  29,166,68
            Head and neck  43,168,224
                Endocrine  71,82,178
   Central nervous system  127,65,146
                    Other  150,150,150
VIEW ALL

news + thoughts

Snowflake simulation

Tue 14-11-2017
Symmetric, beautiful and unique.

Just in time for the season, I've simulated a snow-pile of snowflakes based on the Gravner-Griffeath model.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
A few of the beautiful snowflakes generated by the Gravner-Griffeath model. (explore)

Gravner, J. & Griffeath, D. (2007) Modeling Snow Crystal Growth II: A mesoscopic lattice map with plausible dynamics.

Genes that make us sick

Thu 02-11-2017
Where disease hides in the genome.

My illustration of the location of genes in the human genome that are implicated in disease appears in The Objects that Power the Global Economy, a book by Quartz.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
The location of genes implicated in disease in the human genome, shown here as a spiral. (more...)

Ensemble methods: Bagging and random forests

Mon 16-10-2017
Many heads are better than one.

We introduce two common ensemble methods: bagging and random forests. Both of these methods repeat a statistical analysis on a bootstrap sample to improve the accuracy of the predictor. Our column shows these methods as applied to Classification and Regression Trees.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Ensemble methods: Bagging and random forests. (read)

For example, we can sample the space of values more finely when using bagging with regression trees because each sample has potentially different boundaries at which the tree splits.

Random forests generate a large number of trees by not only generating bootstrap samples but also randomly choosing which predictor variables are considered at each split in the tree.

Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2017) Points of Significance: Ensemble methods: bagging and random forests. Nature Methods 14:933–934.

Background reading

Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2017) Points of Significance: Classification and regression trees. Nature Methods 14:757–758.

...more about the Points of Significance column

Classification and regression trees

Mon 16-10-2017
Decision trees are a powerful but simple prediction method.

Decision trees classify data by splitting it along the predictor axes into partitions with homogeneous values of the dependent variable. Unlike logistic or linear regression, CART does not develop a prediction equation. Instead, data are predicted by a series of binary decisions based on the boundaries of the splits. Decision trees are very effective and the resulting rules are readily interpreted.

Trees can be built using different metrics that measure how well the splits divide up the data classes: Gini index, entropy or misclassification error.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Classification and decision trees. (read)

When the predictor variable is quantitative and not categorical, regression trees are used. Here, the data are still split but now the predictor variable is estimated by the average within the split boundaries. Tree growth can be controlled using the complexity parameter, a measure of the relative improvement of each new split.

Individual trees can be very sensitive to minor changes in the data and even better prediction can be achieved by exploiting this variability. Using ensemble methods, we can grow multiple trees from the same data.

Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2017) Points of Significance: Classification and regression trees. Nature Methods 14:757–758.

Background reading

Lever, J., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2016) Points of Significance: Logistic regression. Nature Methods 13:541-542.

Altman, N. & Krzywinski, M. (2015) Points of Significance: Multiple Linear Regression Nature Methods 12:1103-1104.

Lever, J., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2016) Points of Significance: Classifier evaluation. Nature Methods 13:603-604.

Lever, J., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2016) Points of Significance: Model Selection and Overfitting. Nature Methods 13:703-704.

Lever, J., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2016) Points of Significance: Regularization. Nature Methods 13:803-804.

...more about the Points of Significance column

Personal Oncogenomics Program 5 Year Anniversary Art

Wed 26-07-2017

The artwork was created in collaboration with my colleagues at the Genome Sciences Center to celebrate the 5 year anniversary of the Personalized Oncogenomics Program (POG).

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
5 Years of Personalized Oncogenomics Program at Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre. The poster shows 545 cancer cases. (left) Cases ordered chronologically by case number. (right) Cases grouped by diagnosis (tissue type) and then by similarity within group.

The Personal Oncogenomics Program (POG) is a collaborative research study including many BC Cancer Agency oncologists, pathologists and other clinicians along with Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre with support from BC Cancer Foundation.

The aim of the program is to sequence, analyze and compare the genome of each patient's cancer—the entire DNA and RNA inside tumor cells— in order to understand what is enabling it to identify less toxic and more effective treatment options.

Principal component analysis

Thu 06-07-2017
PCA helps you interpret your data, but it will not always find the important patterns.

Principal component analysis (PCA) simplifies the complexity in high-dimensional data by reducing its number of dimensions.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Principal component analysis. (read)

To retain trend and patterns in the reduced representation, PCA finds linear combinations of canonical dimensions that maximize the variance of the projection of the data.

PCA is helpful in visualizing high-dimensional data and scatter plots based on 2-dimensional PCA can reveal clusters.

Altman, N. & Krzywinski, M. (2017) Points of Significance: Principal component analysis. Nature Methods 14:641–642.

Background reading

Altman, N. & Krzywinski, M. (2017) Points of Significance: Clustering. Nature Methods 14:545–546.

...more about the Points of Significance column