A Practical Introduction to Data Visualization for Data Scientists


How does data visualization work, and what can it do for you? In this workshop, data visualization researcher and developer Robert Kosara will teach you the basics of how and why to visualize data, and show you how to create interactive charts using open-source tools.

You'll learn…
- the fundamental building blocks of data visualization: visual variables, data mappings, etc.
- the difference between continuous and categorical data, and what it means for data visualization and the use of color
- what grammars of graphics are (the 'gg' in 'ggplot'!) and how they help make more interesting visualizations
- the basic chart types, how they work, and what they're best used for
- a few unusual chart types and when to use them
- how to prepare data for common data visualization tools
- how to build a simple interactive modeling tool that combines observed and modeled data in a single visualization
- when to use common charts vs. when to go for bespoke or unusual visualizations

We'll build all these visualizations using the open-source Observable Plot framework, but the concepts apply similarly to many others (such as ggplot, vega-lite, etc.). To follow along, you'll need a computer with an editor (such as Visual Studio Code) as well as a download of the project we provide (see the prerequisites).


Robert Kosara is Data Visualization Developer at Observable, where he helps people build better data visualizations, dashboards, and data apps. Robert's background is in research, having been a professor at UNC Charlotte and researcher at Tableau before joining Observable. He has published on a variety of topics including the perceptual and cognitive basics of visualization. recently, his interest has been in how we use charts and dashboards to communicate with and through data.

Open Data Science




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Cambridge, MA 02142

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