Re: R-beta: CI for median in funtion boxplot

Bill Venables (
Mon, 6 Apr 1998 19:50:59 +0930

Date: Mon, 6 Apr 1998 19:50:59 +0930
Message-Id: <>
From: Bill Venables <>
To: Martin Maechler <>
Subject: Re: R-beta: CI for median in funtion boxplot
In-Reply-To: <>

Martin Maechler writes:

 > No, please not yet another definition of the boxplot!  People
 > looking at boxplots should be able to rely on their knowledge
 > of what a boxplot is.

Well you won't get one from me, Martin, but I fear you are too
late to stop that one. 

But why do people still look at boxplots so much, and why do they
spend so much time and technology on them?  It really puzzles me.
With all the good work done in recent years on bandwidth
selection, why don't we communicate this kind of information,
between ourselves at least, with kernel density estimates more?
They could be embellished with a few reference percentiles, of
course, but to me they convey a whole lot more than boxplots.  It
can't be very long before, like pie charts, boxplots are reserved
for politicians, advertising agents and others of their kind.

 > I don't know the exact history; in any case, John Tukey
 > devised the boxplot, including the notches, and ``1.58 is THE
 > number''.


 > ----------
 > PS: Should the above go into the online documentation?

Purely in the interests of keeping it short, I suggest not.

Bill Venables, Head, Dept of Statistics,    Tel.: +61 8 8303 5418
University of Adelaide,                     Fax.: +61 8 8303 3696
South AUSTRALIA.     5005.   Email:

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