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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 2 (June, 1926)

The Value of Graphs

The Value of Graphs

In view of the recent decision of the Department to have its own Statistician it is interesting to note that Robert Riegel in his “Elements of Business Statistics,” gives the following list of services performed by graphs, the preparation of which will lie specially within the province of the newly created position.

  • 1.—Graphs make a quick and lasting impression on the reader. To most persons figures are very uninteresting reading, and the graphic method, by an instantaneous visual impression of the salient facts and relations, relieves the tediousness of numerical discussion.

  • 2.—Many persons are unable to remember figures sufficiently to make the necessary comparisons, and to others the comparisons do not suggest themselves. The graphic method makes comparisons almost self-evident.

  • 3.—The graphic method furnishes means of bringing together related facts which otherwise would not be perceived. The investigator himself must often acknowledge that the graphic representation has supplied him with suggestions of magnitudes, rates of increase and relations not suggested by the figures themselves.

  • 4.—The graphic representation of facts often suggests hypotheses which may be further investigated. Thus a similarity of two curves to a third may suggest that a causal relation exists, or the nature of a curve may indicate irregularities due to inadequate sampling.

  • 5.—Graphs may be employed for purposes of calculation. Thus we see that the angle made by a straight line with the base line indicates the ratio of variation and that the mode and median of a distribution may be located graphically.

  • 6.—Graphs are utilised for the purpose of saving the time of executives in analysing statistics of business. Instead of being compelled to pore over a considerable mass of figures in order to obtain the significant facts, the important parts of the information are presented to the executive in a convenient and suggestive form.

What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first step to something better.—Wendell Phillips.

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No gain is so certain as that which proceeds from the economical use of what you have.—From the Latin.