Monthly Archives: July 2012

Making R graphics legible in presentation slides

I only visited a few JSM sessions today, as I’ve been focused on preparing for my own talk tomorrow morning. However, I went to several talks in a row which all had a common problem that made me cringe: graphics where the fonts (titles, axes, labels) are too small to read.

You used R's default settings when putting this graph in your slides? Too bad I won't be able to read it from anywhere but the front of the room.

Dear colleagues: if we’re going to the effort of analyzing our data carefully, and creating a lovely graph in R or otherwise to convey our results in a slideshow, let’s PLEASE save our graphs in a way that the text is legible on the slides! If the audience has to strain to read your graphics, it’s no easier to digest than a slide with dense equations or massive tables of numbers.

For those of us working in R, here are some very quick suggestions that would help me focus on the content of your graphics, not on how hard I’m squinting to read them.

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JSM 2012: Sunday

Greetings from lovely San Diego, CA, site of this year’s Joint Statistical Meetings. I can’t believe it’s already been a year since I was inspired to start blogging during the JSM in Miami!

If you’re keeping tabs on this year’s conference, there’s a fair amount of #JSM2012 activity on Twitter. Sadly, I haven’t seen any recent posts on The Statistics Forum, which blogged JSM so actively last year.

Yesterday’s Dilbert cartoon was also particularly fitting for the start of JSM, with its focus on big data 🙂

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U.S. Census Bureau releases API

The Census API, which was in the works for a while, was finally made publicly available yesterday (news release).

I’ve heard the DC dating scene is tough for single women… But especially for centenarians!

So far, two datasets are accessible:

  • the 2010 Census Summary File 1, providing counts down to the tract and block levels
  • the 2006-2010 American Community Survey five-year estimates, providing estimates down to the tract and block-group levels (but not all the way down to blocks)

The developers page provides more information and showcases a couple of the first few apps using the API so far, including one by Cornell’s Jan Vink (whose online poverty maps I’ve mentioned before).

For a handy list of the other government agencies with APIs and developers pages, check out the FCC’s developers page.

Polymath project: social problem-solving

Earlier this week, Argentina hosted the 53rd International Math Olympiad (IMO), a mathematical problem-solving contest for high school students from all over the world. That means it’s almost time for another “mini-polymath” project!

Edit: As of Friday morning (7/13/2012), the problem still has not been completely solved, so there’s time to chime in on the discussion thread!

For the past few years, mathematician Terry Tao has hosted and coordinated a social problem-solving event, where people around the world use a blog and wiki to work together on one of that year’s IMO problems. His 2009 post is a good introduction to the event and the spirit behind it. Personally, I had a blast trying to contribute (if only a tiny bit) to the 2010 event.

Dang, I almost had comment 42!

Tao will be hosting a fourth “mini-polymath” tonight (July 12, 2012), starting at UTC 22:00, which is 6pm EST for us here on the US East Coast. If you read blogs like mine, I imagine you’d enjoy participating, or at least following along and watching the mathematical ideas going off like fireworks 🙂

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