There are many kinds of charts for visualising how a quantity (e.g. number of students in a class) may be broken up into small sub-categories (number of blue-eyed students, number of brown-eyed students, etc.) that sum to the total. A pie-chart or a bar-chart would both work fine.

However, I have a quantity which is produced by multiplying various contributions:

$$ \Gamma =\alpha \times \beta \times \gamma \times \cdots $$

I am trying to find a sensible way of visualising the relative contributions of $\alpha, \beta,\ldots$ to $\Gamma$. My only thought is to make a pie-chart of the logarithms of each:

$$ \log \Gamma = \log \alpha + \log \beta + \log \gamma + \cdots $$

but that feels artificial. Are there any standard chart-types that are used to visualise this kind of information? Thanks.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ How would you represent negative logs on a pie chart? What would be the meaning of representing any logarithm as an angle or wedge area in a pie? Indeed, the underlying difficulty attaches to the basic problem of computing "relative contributions" to a total comprised of a sum of positive and negative numbers: what would you mean by that? $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Dec 3, 2018 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ @whuber That's an excellent point, which I hadn't considered as each variable in my problem is a positive contribution (i.e. $\alpha, \beta > 1$.) Once again, I wonder if there are any clever means of visualising these things. $\endgroup$
    – tom
    Dec 4, 2018 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ Histograms, boxplots, stem-and-leaf plots, violin plots, bean plots, rugplots, and kernel density plots--to name just a few--are all standard. $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Dec 4, 2018 at 22:00


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.