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design + visualization

VIZBI 2013 Keynote

Visual Design Principles—Communicating Effectively

This talk happened on Thursday, Mar 21st 2013 at VIZBI 2013 at the Broad Institute in Boston.

How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection. An artist is emotional, they think, and uses only his intuition; he sees all at once and has no need of reason. A scientist is cold, they think, and uses only his reason; he argues carefully step by step, and needs no imagination. That is all wrong. The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers. The true scientist is quite imaginative as well as rational, and sometimes leaps to solutions where reason can follow only slowly; if he does not, his science suffers. —Isaac Asimov (The Roving Mind)

For more visualization and design resources, see my VIZBI 2012 tutorials, Nature Methods Points of View column, and rant about colors.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Do not allow encoding or other design choices to hijaack your message. Each element on the page must meaningfully contribute to your figure.

presentation video

The video will be posted at vizbi.org.

presentation slides

Slides are available as PDF and keynote (zipped).

Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
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A poet is, after all, a sort of scientist, but engaged in a qualitative science in which nothing is measurable. He lives with data that cannot be numbered, and his experiments can be done only once. The information in a poem is, by definition, not reproducible. He becomes an equivalent of scientist, in the act of examining and sorting the things popping in [to his head], finding the marks of remote similarity, points of distant relationship, tiny irregularities that indicate that this one is really the same as that one over there only more important. Gauging the fit, he can meticulously place pieces of the universe together, in geometric configurations that are as beautiful and balanced as crystals. —Lewis Thomas (The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher)

breakout session—making good figures

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Sketch notes by the inimitable Francis Rowland from our breakout group. The question was: what do you need to make good figures? (PDF)

small, medium and big data visualization

If you're asking how to visualize big data, first make sure you're doing a good job on small and medium data. Each scale requires good design.

Do not expect to use one way
to tell many stories

Also consider that there is a very large number of combinations of data sets, hypotheses and possible patterns. Because of this, you cannot expect to use one way to tell many stories. There is no Holy Grail of big data visualization. But there are many good questions to ask and practices to follow that make up a process which can help you get there.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Medium data visualization. This is what happens when you show the data (a strategy that works for small data), instead of explaining it. Yup, we need to work on this too. (A) Qi X et al. J Biotech 144:43 (2012) (Saturation-Mutagenesis in Two Positions Distant from Active Site of a Klebsiella pneumoniae Glycerol Dehydratase Identifies Some Highly Active Mutants) (B) Alekseyev, M.A. et al. Genome Res 19:943 (2009) (Breakpoint graphs and ancestral genome reconstructions)
Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Big data visualization. Yes, data sets are growing but are visual and cognitive abilities are not. There are many data sets, each requiring its own approach. You cannot use one way to tell many stories. Lewis SN et al. PLoS ONE 6:e27175 (2011) (Prediction of Disease and Phenotype Associations from Genome-Wide Association Studies)
VIEW ALL

news + thoughts

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.

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.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
116 digits in 64 languages. (details)
Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
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.