# Graphs

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 430623.  Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:13 pm Graphs are interesting! Practically everyone uses graphs in their day-to-day lives, yet they're really a quite recent concept, they were only invented around 650 years ago. The Ancient Greeks in particular were very against the concept, as Pythagoras in particular refused to believe in the real line, as it contained irrational numbers and he was pretty against them. So your starter for ten, who invented the graph?

 430625.  Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:15 pm Well, I know Florence Nightingale invented the pie chart, but I dunno about graphs with axes and stuff...

430632.  Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:51 pm

 Quote: Practically everyone uses graphs in their day-to-day lives,

I disagree with this statement. First, practically everyone sees graphs every day, at least if they take any interest in the news. They do not 'use' them. Very few people produce graphs. There is a vast difference between seeing a graph and understanding a graph. Practically every graph, line, pie, histogram, Venn, other, that you see is being presented in such a way that the immediate impact of the graph is to support the words that are written around that graph.

And what is meant by 'practically everyone'. As indicated above following the news is the major reason for seeing graphs. Does the African farm worker see graphs, or the Chinese peasant, or the Alaskan governor? Does the average internet user see graphs?

Yes, the mathematical concept of graphs is a relatively recent concept. The presentation of facts to support a particular viewpoint is not. The modern day use of graphs is not to simplify a set of numbers so that the underlying pattern can be seen. It is to support an individual's interpretation of a set of numbers.

Such drawbacks of graphs are not part of the national curriculum as far as I know.

430635.  Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:01 pm

 Quote: The modern day use of graphs is not to simplify a set of numbers so that the underlying pattern can be seen. It is to support an individual's interpretation of a set of numbers.

Yes and no. Graphs are used to simplify data to visualise trends. But they are also used (separately) as visual aids to support an argument.

430639.  Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:12 pm

npower1 wrote:
 Quote: Practically everyone uses graphs in their day-to-day lives,
I disagree with this statement. First, practically everyone sees graphs every day, at least if they take any interest in the news. They do not 'use' them. Very few people produce graphs. There is a vast difference between seeing a graph and understanding a graph. Practically every graph, line, pie, histogram, Venn, other, that you see is being presented in such a way that the immediate impact of the graph is to support the words that are written around that graph.

If you see a graph, and the information on that graph helps you understand something then, in my book, you're using the graph. You don't have to produce them to use them. As for seeing a graph and understanding a graph, at a basic level, the whole point of graphs is to make data more easily understandable. You see a graph of profits versus time and a upward pointing line is good. How hard is that to understand? Yes the immediate impact is to support the text and figures presented with it, so what? The point of the graph is that it's a lot easier to see patterns and trends visually then by looking at tables of data.

 npower1 wrote: And what is meant by 'practically everyone'. As indicated above following the news is the major reason for seeing graphs. Does the African farm worker see graphs, or the Chinese peasant, or the Alaskan governor? Does the average internet user see graphs?

The news isn't the only place you would see graphs. Many people have cause to analyse data in their jobs, and so would use graphs. A very large proportion of people use maps, which are a type of graph. You want to record where you've planted what in a field, you may well draw a diagram, which would be a graph. So yes, not everyone uses graphs, but I would support my assertion that "practically everyone" or should I say "a lot of people" do use them.

 npower1 wrote: Yes, the mathematical concept of graphs is a relatively recent concept. The presentation of facts to support a particular viewpoint is not. The modern day use of graphs is not to simplify a set of numbers so that the underlying pattern can be seen. It is to support an individual's interpretation of a set of numbers.

Yes. graphs, along with statistics of all kinds, various scientific theories, quotations and everything else are misused by people wanting to find evidence for their own viewpoint. Can you think of anything at all that this doesn't apply to?

 npower1 wrote: Such drawbacks of graphs are not part of the national curriculum as far as I know.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. If it's that graphs can be manipulated to support a particular view, then I'd say this was a drawback of pretty much everything.

430651.  Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:36 pm

 Ameena wrote: Well, I know Florence Nightingale invented the pie chart, but I dunno about graphs with axes and stuff...

Klaxon for Ameena, I'm afraid!

I'd certainly heard that story even before it appeared in the C series of QI, but in the course of reading through a load of old posts during my current autumn cleaning duties I came across one on this very topic.

Pie charts were in fact invented by one William Playfair, who published his first one in 1801, nineteen years before Florence Nightingale was born; see dr.bob way back at post 35709.

430655.  Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:47 pm

 Quote: one William Playfair

William Playfair was also the brother of John Playfair who translated (iirc) Hutton's work on geology from the original interminable gibberish into something approaching English.

 430669.  Tue Oct 28, 2008 7:28 pm For those of you unfamiliar with pie charts, I offer the following helpful example:

 430685.  Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:05 pm Here's another:

 430688.  Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:08 pm tut - now you're just being silly aren't you

430701.  Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:32 pm

 Moosh wrote: Graphs are interesting! Practically everyone uses graphs in their day-to-day lives, yet they're really a quite recent concept, they were only invented around 650 years ago. The Ancient Greeks in particular were very against the concept, as Pythagoras in particular refused to believe in the real line, as it contained irrational numbers and he was pretty against them. So your starter for ten, who invented the graph?

That doesn't make sense to me. If they were only invented 650 years ago, how can the ancient Greeks have been against the concept?

Funnily enough, I found graphjam a couple of days ago. At the time of writing this, my submission based on the lyrics from Grease Lightning is up to be voted on, on the first page. I seem to have managed not to give it a title though, and it's not doing well so far........

http://graphjam.com/vote/

430721.  Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:30 pm

 Quote: That doesn't make sense to me. If they were only invented 650 years ago, how can the ancient Greeks have been against the concept?

I do believe TheElephant will fit in nicely here

 430865.  Wed Oct 29, 2008 7:26 am If by 'graph' you mean the 'graphical representation of a mathematical relationship', then certainly the Pythagoreans, if not Pythagoras himself, used graphs. One such, and a very ingenious one, is the Pythagorean triangle 5:12:13; which is the next one up from the familiar 3:4:5. The three sides are integers, but their ratios are irrational. This is used to reconcile the lunar and solar calendars; 12 solar months along the base, 13 lunar months along the hypotenuse, 5 major planets up the side. Curiously, the angle presented is very close to the ecliptic angle, which is the sky path followed by the sun, moon, and planets (and your communication and GPS satellites) I don't know how to present this as a graph, perhaps one of our mathematical types could oblige.

430880.  Wed Oct 29, 2008 7:48 am

 mckeonj wrote: The three sides are integers, but their ratios are irrational.

 Wiki wrote: In mathematics, a rational number is a number which can be expressed as a ratio of two integers. Non-integer rational numbers (commonly called fractions) are usually written as the vulgar fraction a / b, where b is not zero.

So the ratios aren't irrational.

Last edited by Davini994 on Wed Oct 29, 2008 3:53 pm; edited 1 time in total

430913.  Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:47 am

TheElephant wrote:
 Moosh wrote: Graphs are interesting! Practically everyone uses graphs in their day-to-day lives, yet they're really a quite recent concept, they were only invented around 650 years ago. The Ancient Greeks in particular were very against the concept, as Pythagoras in particular refused to believe in the real line, as it contained irrational numbers and he was pretty against them. So your starter for ten, who invented the graph?

That doesn't make sense to me. If they were only invented 650 years ago, how can the ancient Greeks have been against the concept?

Possibly I said this badly. Pythagoras and most of the greeks were against the concept of the real line, which is necessary to develop graphs based on co-ordinates, as most of them are.

Admittedly here I'm equating Pythagoras with all Ancient Greek mathematicians, but it's not such a stretch as the majority of them were highly influenced by him.

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