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Quantitative Literacy Program

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Math 117

Visually Displaying Data: Graphical Literacy


This course examines the efficient communication of complex quantitative ideas in many formats: data maps, time-series, space-time narrative designs, charts and graphs. Students will learn what properties make a graphic display coherent and compelling and what practices introduce distortions and confusion and should be avoided. Theories will be illustrated by historical examples such as Florence Nightingale's statistical diagrams, Snow's data maps of the cholera epidemics in nineteenth-century London, and the charts used by engineers and project managers in their decision to launch the Challenger spacecraft. As part of this course each student will complete a project involving the analysis and effective display of information from Trinity's City Data Center. Readings will include Tufte's Visual Display of Quantitative Information, and selections from the Visual Revelations column of the journal Chance. Computer software used: EXCEL and PowerPoint.