1967: Violin Plots

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 17:18, 14 March 2018 by (talk) (Clarification of violin vs. box plotting; corrected characterization of comic from "overlayed onto a line plot" to "overlaid onto a box plot".)
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Violin Plots
Strictly speaking, 'violin' refers to the internal structure of the data. The external portion visible in the plot is called the 'viola.'
Title text: Strictly speaking, 'violin' refers to the internal structure of the data. The external portion visible in the plot is called the 'viola.'


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: It is a line plot (as it says in the explanation now?) It is not a scatter or box plot with violin overlaid?
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

This comic graphs the "suggestiveness" of different visualization types, and the winner is Violin plots, hence the title of the comic. A violin plot is a method of plotting data similar to a box plot, but shows the full probability distribution of the data rather than a "box" showing the central two quartiles. This plot can look like female genitals, as do some of those in the violin plot represented in the comic (strictly speaking, this chart is not purely a violin plot; it is a violin plot overlaid onto a box plot).

The chart compares other visualization types suggestiveness (as female genitalia) to the violin plots and ranks them after how suggestive they are. In the low end we find pie chart, a circular graph divided into "slices" to show proportions, and line graph or line chart, a graph of points connected by line segments.

Almost as suggestive as violin plots are the paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe, an American painter known for her paintings of flowers. Some of these flowers, Black Iris for example, are said to symbolize female genitalia, though O'Keeffe herself denied those claims.

The title text invokes the fact that many people incorrectly use the word "vagina", which refers to an internal structure, for the vulva, which is the external portion of the female genitals. Meanwhile the viola is an instrument often mistaken for a violin. And the word "viola" sounds similar to "vulva."

Randall has made several comics with sexual topics, and the vagina has been the center of attention before, as early as in 136: Science Fair. There is even an entire Penis category.


[Header over a violin plot type chart:]
Suggestiveness of different visualization types
[The chart only has an Y-axis with tics, ranking the points on the plot. There are legends at the top and at the bottom:]
Not very suggestive
[There are four points on the graph, each with a mucosa colored and "violin" shaped probability density around each point. The points are white inside a black box plot like structure with black error bars. The two first points to the left are very low near the bottom of the Y-axis while the two next point to the right are almost at the top of the chart, the last also clearly with the probability density higher than the second last. Above the first two and below the second two points there are legends:]
Pie charts
Line graphs
Georgia O'Keeffe paintings
Violin plots

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Wow, a new low for Randall. 10:44, 14 March 2018 (UTC)

For someone from the other side of the globe this looks like a new high... (posted after I could stop laughing) 11:12, 14 March 2018 (UTC)
Yes it has been way too long since he last made one of these :D See for instance 136: Science Fair, and of course alle these categories: Penis, Fleshlights and generally just Sex.--Kynde (talk) 13:21, 14 March 2018 (UTC)
So you're saying... Randall went down on this one? 02:59, 15 March 2018 (UTC)

Wonder if Friday's comic (or maybe already a tomorrow Thursday release) will be about the as of today late Stephen Hawking? I hope so considering Randall's earlier Tributes. Just got a Facebook reminder yesterday that it was three years ago the he posted this comic (and I posted it on Facebook): 1498: Terry Pratchett. --Kynde (talk) 14:24, 14 March 2018 (UTC)

I thought Wednesday's comic would be the tribute... Wonder what Friday's comic will be like. Herobrine (talk) 12:31, 15 March 2018 (UTC)
He died early Wednesday morning in the UK, so he would have had to be quick about it. I think he has a script that automatically post a comic, if he doesn't stop it. I'm in UK+1 time zone (Europe) and here I can see that the comic was released no later than 05:25, 14 March 2018‎, so that is probably before Stephen died... Or at least while Randall was sleeping and had not heard of his death... Still waiting to see... --Kynde (talk) 13:57, 15 March 2018 (UTC)
While we wait: 799: Stephen Hawking... --Kynde (talk) 22:28, 15 March 2018 (UTC)
No Tribute?... --Kynde (talk) 00:27, 17 March 2018 (UTC)

Is it a coincidence that the Pi day comic refers to Pie Charts? Probably Kev (talk) 14:32, 14 March 2018 (UTC)

Maybe, but Randall is acutely aware of anything Pi... Just saw that a video on this topic: 1292: Pi vs. Tau was released yesterday on pi-day and that it referred to the Pi vs. Tau comic with an image of it: How pi was almost 6.283185... --Kynde (talk) 14:00, 15 March 2018 (UTC)

I agree with the interpretation of the title text. However, I wonder if we should point out this is not in fact true about violin plots and is just a pun in the comic. What does everyone else think? Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 11:48, 15 March 2018 (UTC)

The "incomplete" tag mentions that there isn't anything on Wikipedia called a "line plot". However, line plots do in fact exist. However, they don't seem to have any correspondence to the type of chart on display. https://www.mathplanet.com/education/algebra-2/equations-and-inequalities/line-plots-and-stem-and-leaf-plots 18:29, 15 March 2018 (UTC)

I have now removed the incomplete "incomplete tag" Seems like a finished explanation to me. It is definitely nothing to do with line as there are not lines between the points. --Kynde (talk) 07:44, 16 March 2018 (UTC)

Sex and violins! (I was strongly tempted to shop one of these plots on a porn pic, doubting the suggestivity. I'm against genital beauty operations, but with a viola like this, you should consider it...) 13:43, 16 March 2018 (UTC)

I just found this tweet, published one day before this comic… -- 23:51, 26 March 2018 (UTC)