Scatterplot of the eruption interval for Old Faithful (a geyser)

A plot is a graphical technique for representing a data set, usually as a graph showing the relationship between two or more variables. The plot can be drawn by hand or by a computer. In the past, sometimes mechanical or electronic plotters were used. Graphs are a visual representation of the relationship between variables, which are very useful for humans who can then quickly derive an understanding which may not have come from lists of values. Given a scale or ruler, graphs can also be used to read off the value of an unknown variable plotted as a function of a known one, but this can also be done with data presented in tabular form. Graphs of functions are used in mathematics, sciences, engineering, technology, finance, and other areas.


Plots play an important role in statistics and data analysis. The procedures here can broadly be split into two parts: quantitative and graphical. Quantitative techniques are a set of statistical procedures that yield numeric or tabular output. Examples of quantitative techniques include:[1]

These and similar techniques are all valuable and are mainstream in terms of classical analysis. There are also many statistical tools generally referred to as graphical techniques. These include:[1]

Graphical procedures such as plots are a short path to gaining insight into a data set in terms of testing assumptions, model selection, model validation, estimator selection, relationship identification, factor effect determination, outlier detection. Statistical graphics give insight into aspects of the underlying structure of the data.[1]

Graphs can also be used to solve some mathematical equations, typically by finding where two plots intersect.

Types of plots

See also: Commons:Category:Plots by type

showing on a horizontal axis and on a vertical axis, where is a phase space trajectory.

Plots for specific quantities

3D plots


Types of graphs and their uses vary very widely. A few typical examples are:

See also


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the National Institute of Standards and Technology

  1. ^ a b c NIST/SEMATECH (2003). "The Role of Graphics". In: e-Handbook of Statistical Methods 6 January 2003 (Date created).
  2. ^ Altman DG, Bland JM (1983). "Measurement in medicine: the analysis of method comparison studies". The Statistician. 32 (3). Blackwell Publishing: 307–317. doi:10.2307/2987937. JSTOR 2987937.
  3. ^ Bland JM, Altman DG (1986). "Statistical methods for assessing agreement between two methods of clinical measurement". Lancet. 1 (8476): 307–10. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(86)90837-8. PMID 2868172. S2CID 2844897.
  4. ^ a b Simionescu, P.A. (2014). Computer Aided Graphing and Simulation Tools for AutoCAD Users (1st ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-4822-5290-3.
  5. ^ R. J. Light; D. B. Pillemer (1984). Summing up: The Science of Reviewing Research. Cambridge, Massachusetts.: Harvard University Press.
  6. ^ M. Egger, G. Davey Smith, M. Schneider & C. Minder (September 1997). "Bias in meta-analysis detected by a simple, graphical test". BMJ. 315 (7109): 629–634. doi:10.1136/bmj.315.7109.629. PMC 2127453. PMID 9310563.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Galbraith, Rex (1988). "Graphical display of estimates having differing standard errors". Technometrics. 30 (3). American Society for Quality: 271–281. doi:10.2307/1270081. JSTOR 1270081.
  8. ^ Utts, Jessica M. Seeing Through Statistics 3rd Edition, Thomson Brooks/Cole, 2005, pp 166–167. ISBN 0-534-39402-7
  9. ^ Theodore T. Allen (2010). Introduction to Engineering Statistics and Lean Sigma: Statistical Quality Control and Design of Experiments and Systems. Springer. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-84882-999-2. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  10. ^ Hintze Jerry L.; Nelson Ray D. (1998). "Violin Plots: A Box Plot-Density Trace Synergism". The American Statistician. 52 (2): 181–84. doi:10.1080/00031305.1998.10480559.