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Revision as of 13:45, 4 May 2013
Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have collaboratively explained 4 xkcd comics, and only 1721 (100%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!
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Linear Regression 
Title text: The 95% confidence interval suggests Rexthor's dog could also be a cat, or possibly a teapot. 
Explanation
Linear regression is a method for modeling the relationship between two sets of data, assuming that the two have a linear correlation (as opposed to, say, a quadratic correlation or no correlation whatsoever). The model determines a "bestfit" line through a scatter plot of the datasets, together with a coefficient of determination, usually denoted r^{2} or R^{2}. This is a number between 0 and 1, which indicates how close the points are to lying on a line. A value of 1 means perfect correlation, while values close to 0 indicate little or no correlation.
Constellations are patterns created by linking the apparent positions of stars. One could create fake constellations by connecting assorted points.
In this comic, a set of data has had linear regression and some form of statistical analysis applied to it, indicating that there is insignificant correlation between the two. The data points are so widely scattered that (as noted in the comic) it is easier to connect the data points in a constellationlike pattern than it is to determine whether the correlation is negative or positive (without looking at the trendline, of course). Because of this, Randall suggests we should be suspicious of any conclusions drawn from this data.
The mention of a teapot may be a reference to Russell's teapot.
Transcript
This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks. 
[A twopanel comic with a caption underneath drawn in a combination of black and red. The two panels show an identical square of scattered black dots, with only the red additions being different. A black caption is written below, spanning both panels.
[The left panel shows a slightly rising red line drawn through the middle of the panel, passing near a few dots but not obviously related to most of them]
 R^{2}=0.06
[The right panel shows many of the dots connected by red lines to form a stick figure of a man resembling the constellation Orion, with the hand on the reader's right raised and holding an object.]
 Rexthor, the DogBearer
[The caption below is black and applies to both panels.]
 I don't trust linear regressions when it's harder to guess the direction of the correlation from the scatter plot than to find new constellations on it.
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