# [R] Impaired boxplot functionality - mean instead of median

Michael H. Prager Mike.Prager at noaa.gov
Thu Dec 1 19:10:43 CET 2005

```All--

Would someone kindly post the reference to Tukey's formula for a boxplot
without whiskers?

I am looking at his book "Exploratory Data Analysis" from 1977.  The
index includes "box-and-whisker" plot but not "boxplot."  On page 39-40
construction of the plot is described, including the statements: "We
draw a long, thinnish box that stretches from hinge to hinge, crossing
it with a bar at the median.  Then we draw a 'whisker' from each end of
the box to the corresponding extreme."

MHP

on 12/1/2005 11:57 AM P Ehlers said the following:

>
>1. I've seen several intro-stats textbooks that define a
>boxplot to have whiskers to the extreme data values
>and then define Tukey's boxplot as a "modified" boxplot.
>I wish authors wouldn't do that.
>
>2. I've also seen boxplots used for sample sizes as small
>as -- are you ready for it? -- n = 2!! (Admittedly, only in
>plots comparing several groups.) The help page for
>stripchart() points out that stripcharts "are a good
>alternative to boxplots when sample sizes are small".
>My own rule-of-thumb: n > 20 for single boxplots, n > 12
>for multiple boxplots.
>
>Peter Ehlers
>
>Martin Maechler wrote:
>
>
>
>>Boxplots were invented by John W. Tukey and I think should be
>>counted among the top "small but smart" achievements from the
>>20th century.  Very wisely he did *not* use mean and standard deviations.
>>
>>Even though it's possible to draw boxplots that are not boxplots
>>(and people only recently explained how to do this with R on this
>> mailing list), I'm arguing very strongly against this.
>>
>>If I see a boxplot - I'd want it to be a boxplot and not have
>>the silly (please excuse)  10%--------90% whiskers  which
>>declare 20% of the points as outliers {in the boxplot sense}.
>>
>>If you want the mean +/- sd plot, do *not* misuse boxplots
>>
>>Martin Maechler, ETH Zurich
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>>>>>>"Evgeniy" == Evgeniy Kachalin <ka4alin at yandex.ru>
>>>>>>>   on Thu, 01 Dec 2005 19:04:47 +0300 writes:
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>    Evgeniy> Hello to all users and wizards.
>>    Evgeniy> I am regulary using 'boxplot' function or its analogue - 'bwplot' from
>>    Evgeniy> the 'lattice' library.
>>
>> [there's the lattice *package*  !]
>>
>>    Evgeniy> But they are, as far as I understand, totally
>>    Evgeniy> flawed in functionality: they miss ability to select what they would
>>    Evgeniy> draw 'in the middle' - median, mean. What the box means - standard
>>    Evgeniy> error, 90% or something else. What the whiskers mean - 100%, 99% or
>>    Evgeniy> something else.
>>    Evgeniy> Is there any way to realize it? Or is there any other good data
>>    Evgeniy> visualization function for comparing means of various data groups?
>>    Evgeniy> Ideally I would like to have a bit more customised function for doing
>>    Evgeniy> that. For example, 'boxplot(a~b,data=d,mid='mean').
>>
>>
>>    Evgeniy> --
>>    Evgeniy> Evgeniy, ICQ 38317310.
>>
>>______________________________________________
>>R-help at stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list
>>https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help
>>
>>
>
>______________________________________________
>R-help at stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list
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>
>

--

Michael Prager, Ph.D.
Population Dynamics Team, NMFS SE Fisheries Science Center
NOAA Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research
Beaufort, North Carolina  28516
http://shrimp.ccfhrb.noaa.gov/~mprager/
Opinions expressed are personal, not official.  No
government endorsement of any product is made or implied.

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