This is a beautiful visualization of birthday frequency:
This “heat map” shows which days are the most common birthdays in the U.S.
Lost of interesting questions arise from this representation of data. We can immediately see that July, August, and September seem to form a disproportionate band of birthdays. And take a look at July 4th: what’s the explanation for that?
In addition, you could also use this chart to create some new twists on the classic birthday paradox!
This is a beautiful representation of ocean currents around the world:
Put together by the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, this short video circles the digital globe, showing the relative strengths and directions of ocean movement.
Watching this allows one to see some of the basic mathematics of fluid flow, like tendency toward rotation and how fluid behaves at boundaries. In addition, global phenomena like the jet stream and trade winds can also be perceived.
This dynamic representation of data is similar to this wind map in how it brings to life the ideas of vector fields and flow lines.
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April is Mathematics Awareness Month. Sponsored by professional and educational organizations like the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, the American Statistical Association, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematicians, Mathematics Awareness Month aims to increase awareness and promote the utility of mathematics through activities, contests, and public discourse.
This year’s theme is Mathematics, Statistics, and the Data Deluge. The application of statistics is playing an ever-increasing role in both theory and practice, and the overwhelming amount of data available to us now is dramatically changing what we can do and how we do it.
There are a number of linked resources to this year’s theme at the Math Awareness Month website. And this story from Stephen Wolfram offers an interesting tale about the unexpected application of personal data.
In addition, there are plenty of resources to previous MAMs here, like “Mathematics and Sports” and “Mathematics and the Internet” here: http://www.mathaware.org/about.mam.html#previous.
How will you be celebrating Mathematics Awareness Month?
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Stephen Wolfram has given the world Mathematica, MathWorld, and Wolfram Alpha. His latest contribution to the evolution of mathematics is a highly compelling analysis of 20 years of personal data.
Wolfram has collected data on his emails, his phone calls, and even his keystrokes for the past two decades. In the above piece, Wolfram takes a look at what that data has to say about his life. Why did his sleeping habits change around 2002? What time of day are you most likely to catch him on the phone? What percentage of keystrokes over the past 20 years have been backspaces?
The results are interesting not merely because Wolfram is such a fascinating person, but because of the potential personal data collection has for all of us. What sorts of data would tell your story?
What a wonderful idea to explore! Thanks for sharing, Mr. Wolfram. You’ve given us a lot to think about.
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Google’s Public Data Explorer is a great, free resource for students and teachers interested in data science and statistics.
The site allows you to create custom graphs of available data sets, making it easy to experiment with different representations and explore the meaning of data.
There are several data sets available to play around with. The OECD Factbook alone provides a wealth of raw data on education, energy, employment, population and migration, and many other categories. There are also data sets available from the U.S. Census and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. There appears to be support for using your own data sets, as well.
The data can be represented in a variety of ways: histograms, line graphs, and even dynamic time series are all available. It’s a great way to play around with data, and to build skill and intuition in data analysis, interpretation, and representation.
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