Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - contact me Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca on Twitter Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Lumondo Photography Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Pi Art Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Hilbertonians - Creatures on the Hilbert Curve
What do the trees know.Lalehsway, sway, swaymore quotes


DNA on 10th — street art, wayfinding and font


art + design

Math geek? If you like the clean geometric design of the type posters, you may enjoy something even more mathematical. Design that transcends repetition: Art of Pi, Phi and e posters.
Are optotypes your type?
SnellenMK adds lowercase and punctuation to the traditional Snellen design.

Visions of Type


Typographical posters of bird song
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Fire fire. Where where? Here here! See it, see it. — song of the Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea). (BUY ARTWORK)

Typographical posters of bird song
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Who cooks for you? — song of the Barred Owl (Strix varia). (BUY ARTWORK)

typography and bird songs

Consider the fact that, if you live in a city, birds are essentially the only wildlife that you meet during your day.

Depending on where you live, you might come several species without even trying. In Vancouver, on my short 10 minute walk to work, I have a good chance to see rock doves, crows, mallars, wigeons, hooded mergansers (if I'm lucky), house sparrows, song sparrows, red-winged black birds, white-crowned sparrows, bushtits, black-capped chickadees, northern flickers, and the mother-of-all-honkers: Canada geese.

Birds and letters are everywhere—art of nature and man.

Letter forms, on the other hand, are the art that is also everywhere. Every typeface is an artistic expression.

Regardless where you live, sadly, you are likely to come across mutants like Comic Sans, Arial and Times New Roman. Hideous creatures from the shallows. Try to find Gotham, Gill Sans, Frutiger, or Garamond.

learning bird songs

Mnemonics of bird songs help you remember the call and recognize the bird. It's so much easier to think "Quick, three beers!" — the call of the Olive-sided flycatcher — rather than "Chirp, chirp, chirp."

The mnemonic captures the cadence and repetition scheme of the song.

For example, if you listen to the white-throated sparrow you can't help but think that this little guy is trying to tell us something.

the mnemonics

French Zonotrichia albicollis: Baisse ta jupe, Philomène, Philomène, Philomène. How differently we hear!
—Madelaine Lemieux (via Twitter)

Dear sweet Canada Canada Canada.
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)

Potato chip!
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

Here here. Come right here, dear.
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)

Who cooks for you?
Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Fire fire. Where where? Here here! See it, see it.
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)

Clear. Wick, wick, wick.
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Quick, three beers!
Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi)

Where are you? Here I am.
Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)

Chubby chubby cheeks. Chubby cheeks.
Ruby-crowned kinglet (Regulus calendula)

Here sweetie.
Black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

See me, pretty, pretty me.
White-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

the posters

If you love birds and typography, these posters are for you.

The mnemonic for the bird's song is presented on a background that proportionally presents the bird's plumage colors.

If you explore the posters, you just might find the bird too.


Typographical posters of bird song
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Dear sweet Canada Canada Canada. — song of the White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis). (BUY ARTWORK)

Typographical posters of bird song
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Potato chip! — song of the American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis). (BUY ARTWORK)

Typographical posters of bird song
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Here here. Come right here, dear. — song of the Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula). (BUY ARTWORK)

Typographical posters of bird song
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Who cooks for you? — song of the Barred Owl (Strix varia). (BUY ARTWORK)

Typographical posters of bird song
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Fire fire. Where where? Here here! See it, see it. — song of the Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea). (BUY ARTWORK)

Typographical posters of bird song
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Clear. Wick, wick, wick. — song of the Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus). (BUY ARTWORK)

Typographical posters of bird song
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Quick, three beers! — song of the Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi). (BUY ARTWORK)

Typographical posters of bird song
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Where are you? Here I am. — song of the Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus). (BUY ARTWORK)

Typographical posters of bird song
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Chubby chubby cheeks. Chubby cheeks. — song of the Ruby-crowned kinglet (Regulus calendula). (BUY ARTWORK)

Typographical posters of bird song
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
Here sweetie. — song of the Black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus). (BUY ARTWORK)

Typographical posters of bird song
 / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca buy artwork
See me, pretty, pretty me. — song of the White-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys). (BUY ARTWORK)
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news + thoughts

Yearning for the Infinite — Aleph 2

Mon 18-11-2019

Discover Cantor's transfinite numbers through my music video for the Aleph 2 track of Max Cooper's Yearning for the Infinite (album page, event page).

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Yearning for the Infinite, Max Cooper at the Barbican Hall, London. Track Aleph 2. Video by Martin Krzywinski. Photo by Michal Augustini. (more)

I discuss the math behind the video and the system I built to create the video.

Hidden Markov Models

Mon 18-11-2019

Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.
—Rene Magritte

A Hidden Markov Model extends a Markov chain to have hidden states. Hidden states are used to model aspects of the system that cannot be directly observed and themselves form a Markov chain and each state may emit one or more observed values.

Hidden states in HMMs do not have to have meaning—they can be used to account for measurement errors, compress multi-modal observational data, or to detect unobservable events.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Hidden Markov Models. (read)

In this column, we extend the cell growth model from our Markov Chain column to include two hidden states: normal and sedentary.

We show how to calculate forward probabilities that can predict the most likely path through the HMM given an observed sequence.

Grewal, J., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2019) Points of significance: Hidden Markov Models. Nature Methods 16:795–796.

Background reading

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

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)