N-dim Involvment LO7437

Martha Landerman (mlm@smtpgwy.roadnet.ups.com)
Wed, 15 May 96 09:33:52 EST

Replying to LO7410 --

Michael Erickson said:

I recently attended a workshop/seminar by Ed Tufte of Yale
University who has written a couple of books on the subject
of graphical representation of complex "stuff". His main
put on the subject is that our world is a "multi-variate" or
n-dimmesional thing, and our analysis of the assorted
systems, problems (business, scientific-whatever) MUST be
multi-dimmensional also.


I attended Tufte's seminar a few years ago and concur with you about
how looking at information must be multi-dimensional. The Napoleon
example was pretty compelling. I also remember an example that
discussed the O rings on the Space Shuttle. The way the data was
originally presented, the O rings seemed to perform perfectly in every
situation (lots of cute little missile-looking graphics). But when
Tufte reordered the performance data by temperature, it became
brutally obvious that the O rings always failed when the air
temperature was below a certain value. The day the Challenger took
off, the air temperature was well below this value, so the flight was
doomed before it ever took off.

He also showed how important it is for use to look at data in
different ways with a map of a neighborhood in London. Cholera had
broken out and no one could figure out why (it wasn't known to be
spread through water then). Dr. John Snow made a map showing the homes
where people had died of cholera, and the locations of all the local
water pumps. Most of the deaths were near the Broad Street pump.
Victoms not near the pump were discovered to have traveled especially
to it because they thought the water tasted better. When officials
removed the pump handle, the cholera stopped, but over 500 people had
died before this graph was created.

These examples are compelling reasons why we must remember to look at
things in many ways. We don't always have lives hanging on our ability
to make clear charts and figures. But then, we don't always know when
we do, either. It's worth crawling out of the box.


Martha Landerman
senior creative analyst

UPS I.S. Maryland
2311 York Road
Timonium, MD 21093

...the usual disclaimers... my word's no one else's...
Try yoga. As your body flexes, do does your mind.


"Martha Landerman" <mlm@smtpgwy.roadnet.ups.com>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>