Canadian CPI: Visualization Brainstorm

May 27, 2010
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(This article was first published on TechPolicy.ca » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

After finishing the R prototype for data visualization, I've started abstracting the various methods necessary to create beautiful graphs. While there's no preliminary version of the R package yet, I think I've taken a number of exciting steps. These include:

  • Abstracting graph objects. Objects such as lines, scatter plots, and other graph types can all be treated in a similar fashion in JavaScript. I use this approach in the new version of the JavaScript graph presented below.
  • Including axes. The last graphs did not have axes, grid lines, and other information cues. These ones do. While they have to be manually set, this presents an advantage in that one can choose which grid lines and axis points to show.
  • Interactivity. The graph below actually has useful interactive features. Mousing over points provides information on the value of the point itself, while mousing over the line plot provides the title. Nothing too complex, but already fairly useful.

I chose to present data on the Canadian consumer price index (CPI). This is freely available data and serves as a reminder of the major political issue of our time... While I don't want to make this post political, the ultimate goal of this blog is to use such visualizations and mathematical models to better understand public policy and the role of data mining therein. Might as well start referencing useful data in this regard.

So without further ado, here's the graph...



The next step is fairly clear: making the above possible in R!

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