[R] Generating a vector for breaks in a histogram

Mulholland, Tom Tom.Mulholland at health.wa.gov.au
Mon Jul 7 04:59:10 CEST 2003

My gut feeling is that stacked dotplots would have given you the same
insight. In general terms it's about getting the right tool for the
right job. My comment was about the order of choosing rather than
ignoring totally. If I recall correctly the article about dot plots was
about old fashioned hand drawn dot plots where dots were either stacked
above each other or if more appropriate next to each other as near as
possible to where they should be located on the axis. This results in a
pattern that looks very similar to the histogram. The argument being
made if I recall correctly is that if you choose the wrong bins for a
histogram you may well end up with the same type of result that you had
with the densityplot.

My practical way of looking at this is to look at what happens to the
overall shape of the histogram when you change the bins. The issue is
how quickly and reliably do you get to the "truth" using the various
techniques. As you've noted the density plot doesn't seem to deal with
some types of data as well as it does others. So when I am looking at
data I use a variety of methods, and histograms come later than rugplots
or density plots, but I tend to do both of those together.

I'm just learning and welcome guidance in a field that I do not claim
expertise in.

Tom Mulholland
Senior Policy Officer
WA Country Health Service
189 Royal St, East Perth, WA, 6004
Tel: (08) 9222 4062
e-mail: Tom.Mulholland at health.wa.gov.au
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