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Playfair's Commercial and Political Atlas and Statistical Breviary


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Table of Contents

Introduction Howard Wainer and Ian Spence; The Commercial and Political Alas; The Statistical Breviary.

Promotional Information

This full colour reproduction, with new explanatory information, makes Playfair's wisdom widely available for the first time in centuries.

About the Author

Howard Wainer is Distinguished Research Scientist for the National Board of Medical Examiners and Adjunct Professor of Statistics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of fifteen previous books, most recently, Graphic Discovery: A Trout in the Milk and other Vsual Adventures (Princeton University Press, 2005). Ian Spence is Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto. His current research includes experimentation in human-computer interaction and visual memory. He is the author of over 100 research articles and monographs.


'William Playfair's Commercial and Political Atlas and his Statistical Breviary are among the most important works in the entire history of statistical graphics and data visualization. Here we find the origin of the modern graphical forms most widely used today - the pie chart, line graph and bar chart - and Playfair used these with great skill to make his (largely economic) data 'speak to the eyes'. Spence and Wainer have done a great service to all those interested in visual information display and its history ...'. Michael Friendly, York University 'William Playfair made breakthrough visualizations that now seem obvious to us - his printed graphs and charts were innovative in his day and they remain an inspiration in our time. The Introduction gives readers a fascinating portrait of Playfair's life and reminds us of how much of a struggle it is to introduce new ideas. Seeing Playfair's Atlas enables readers to travel back in time, while stimulating our imagination to envision novel dynamic visualizations.' Ben Shneiderman, University of Maryland 'With this facsimile edition, William Playfair (1759-1823) is now back onto the stage. Ian Spence and Howard Wainer are to be congratulated for this initiative. Their introduction to this edition does compensate any worshipper of Playfair for the suffering of not possessing an original edition. By their vivid and learned description of Playfair's environment, they illustrate how novel ideas emerge in an interacting scientific community. The recipe often requires a dose of unconventionality. With William Playfair we are more than satisfied.' Dr Antoine de Falguerolles, Universite de Toulouse 'From the mind and hand of Playfair sprung - virtually fully formed - the prototypes for most of the statistical graphics in use today. There is no better place to start than at the beginning, and this is the book that lets us see what Playfair was trying to do - and to appreciate just how well he accomplished his goals. No student of information graphics should be without this book.' Stephen M. Kosslyn, Harvard University 'Wainer and Spence have done us a great service by making Playfair's two books available again. ... The book is delightful reading ...'. The Mathematical Association of America Online

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