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Monthly Archives: October 2011

TreeMap of the Market

TreeMap of the Market

SmartMoney has an interactive visual tool on their website called “Map of the Market”. It is an application of the TreeMap concept developed by Ben Shneiderman which I have blogged about before here.

The map lets you watch more than 500 stocks at once, with data updated every 15 minutes. Each colored rectangle in the map represents an individual company. The rectangle’s size reflects the company’s market cap and the color shows price performance. (Green means the stock price is up; red means it’s down. Dark colors are neutral). Move the mouse over a company rectangle and a little panel will pop up with more information.

Map Of The Market (Source: SmartMoney website)

For example, the above map shows the 26 week performance with the Top 5 Losers highlighted (hovered over RIMM). More information from the corresponding Map Instructions page.

This map is also quite similar in concept to the StockTouch iPad app which I covered here. StockTouch displays 900 companies, grouped into 9 sectors. The above Map of the Market is a free service, with an available upgrade to one showing 1000 companies for a subscription fee. While interesting in its own right, however, this is not about the business model of how to monetize the use of such information.

It might be interesting to put together a time-lapse video showing this map for every close of business day throughout one year. Not only would one see the up and down movement by color, but also the gradual shifts in the cumulative size of various sectors due to the area in the tree map.

Another fascinating set of tree map uses is on display at the Gallery of the Hive Group website. Their interactive tree map product HoneyComb has been used in many different industries. The Gallery shows many examples, ranging from sales performance to manufacturing / quality applications to public interest uses such as browsing Olympic Games results or data on Earthquakes. See the following example screenshot (click to interact on the Hive Group website):

TreeMap of Earthquakes (Source: HiveGroup)

While you won’t get the full benefit of seeing the details of all 540 items in one view, you can filter using the panel controls on the right or change the grouping and size and color attributes. This shows for example that the most powerful earthquakes are generally not the most deadly ones and vice versa.

Interacting with these sample tree maps again drives home the fundamental notion that interactive visualizations lead to quicker grasp and better understanding of data sets. This is similar to how walking around and seeing an object from different perspectives gives you a better idea of it’s 3-D structure than seeing it just in one 2-D picture. With multiple ways of interacting it feels almost as if you’re walking inside the data set to see it from multiple angles and perspectives. You have to do it yourself to appreciate the difference it makes.

Lastly, a good article on some of the pitfalls of tree map design with lots of links to good/bad examples comes from the folks at Juice Analytics in their Blog post titled “10 lessons in Treemap Design“.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in Financial, Industrial

 

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Visualizations to navigate Healthcare

Visualizations to navigate Healthcare

One of the more powerful visualization websites I have seen recently is called “Healthymagination” created by GE. It features about 2 dozen visualizations, most of them interactive, on healthcare related topics such as Cost of Getting Sick, Heart Disease Myths vs. Facts, U.S. Health Profiles by State and County, leading Causes of Death etc.

From the GE Visualization About page:

“At GE, we believe data visualization is a powerful way to simplify complexity.

We are committed to creating visualizations that advance the conversation about issues that shape our lives, and so we encourage visitors to download, post and share these visualizations.”

These are built using the Visualizing Player tool from the Visualizing.Org community, which we covered in a previous Blog post here.

One visualization I found particularly useful shows hospital quality. Imagine you just moved to a new area and want to find out which are good nearby hospitals. How would you find out? Ask friends? Ask your doctor? Try one and switch if you have a bad experience? In most cases, you would not base your decision on a lot of data, or at best a small set of anecdotal experience.

With the hospital quality visualization you have a much better tool to base your decision on facts. The interactive set of graphic visualizes performance of hospitals by 30 measures about the best kinds of treatments or practices for common conditions for which Americans enter hospitals and seek care. Here is an example:

Florida Hospital Performance Rating based on 30 measures, 2009 Data

This aggregates a lot of data. You can see how some hospitals outperform the average and show mostly green measures (such as the Centers in Atlantis and Aventura), while others have more average (yellow) or below average (red) cells (such as the Boca Raton Community Hospital). On this high-level you can already decide in favor of a specific hospital, if you can afford to go there. If you are going to a specific hospital, you can use its scorecard to look at specific areas. Let’s look at the Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Boynton Beach as an example:

Performance Scorecard of Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Boynton Beach

It has only one red measure, here on Heart Disease Discharge Instructions. From the legend on the right you can learn what this performance measure captures and that the national average is 86.6%. Hovering with the mouse over the red cell shows the score for this particular hospital, here 68.7%. As a patient you can use such data to obtain additional information if you or one of your loved ones has been treated for heart disease at this hospital.

You can also look at the national average scores of hospitals across the United States for each of the 30 measures:

National Average Scores for U.S. hospitals

From this chart you can see that for example regarding Children’s Asthma, the in-patient measures are near 100% and very good, whereas the home management plans (what to do after going home) are only at 60%. Whether this indicates a general pattern – hospitals perform lower on discharge instructions than on in-patient care – would need to be validated across more than just two arbitrary selected examples. But in any event, this is a classic example of how the Internet and especially interactive visualizations based on recent and public data empowers the consumer in all areas, especially in Healthcare.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Medical

 

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Share and Inequality of Mobile Phone Revenues and Volumes

Share and Inequality of Mobile Phone Revenues and Volumes

The analyst website Asymco.com visualizes various financial indicators of mobile phone companies in this interactive vendor bubble chart (follow link, select “Vendor Charts”). It covers the following 8 companies: Apple, HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia, RIM, Samsung, Sony Ericsson. From the “vendor data” tab I downloaded the data and looked at the revenue and volume distributions for the last 4 years.

Revenue Share of Mobile Phones and corresponding Gini Index

Note the sharp reduction in inequality of revenue distribution in the 9/1/08 quarter, when Apple achieved nearly 10x in revenue (and volume) compared to the year before. While the iPhone 1 was introduced a year earlier in 2007, in commercial terms the iPhone 3G started to have strong market impact when introduced in the second half of 2008.

Volume Share of Mobile Phones and Gini Index

Volume inequality is considerably higher (average Gini = 0.61) than Revenue inequality (0.43) due to two dominant shippers (Nokia and Samsung), which continue to lead the peer group in volume. Only recently has the inequality been reduced, i.e. the volumes are distributed more evenly. Apple’s growth in volume share has come at the expense of other players (mainly Motorola and Sony Ericsson).

Volume share is a lagging indicator regarding a company’s innovation and success. It can be dominated for a long time by players who are past their prime and in financial distress (like Nokia). Revenue is more useful to predict a company’s future growth and success. But the real story is told when comparing Profit. Apple’s (Smart Phone) Profit dwarfs that of the other 7 competitors:

Profit Comparison between 8 Mobile Phone Vendors (Source: Asymco.com)

Click on the image to go to Asymco’s interactive chart (requires Flash). The bubble chart display over time is very revealing regarding Apple’s meteoric rise.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2011 in Financial, Industrial

 

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Number of Neighbors for World Countries

Number of Neighbors for World Countries

One important geographical aspect in economy is whether a country is land-locked. Another aspect is the number of neighbors a given country shares a border with. If we sort all 239 world countries, 75 (31%, almost one third) of them are island countries such as Madagascar or Australia where this number is zero. On the opposite end are countries with the most border connections. Here are the top 6 countries in descending order: China (16), Russia (14), Brazil (10), Sudan, Germany, and Democratic Republic of Congo (9 each). All other countries have 8 or less neighbors. Here is a visual breakdown:

The histogram shows the high frequency of island states; the range from 1 to 5 neighbors is fairly common, with a steep drop off in the frequency of 6 or more neighbors. Here is a world map with the same color-code:

WorldMap color-coded by number of neighboring countries

Large countries tend to have more neighbors (Russia (14), China (16), Brazil (10)), but there are obvious exceptions to this tendency (Canada (1), United States (2)). The number of neighbors depends not just on the size of the country itself, but on it’s neighbors’ sizes as well; for example, a small country such as Austria (land area size world rank: 116th) has a rather high number of 8 neighbors because many of them in turn are relatively small (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, etc.).

The average number of neighbors is about 2.7 and there are 323 such border relationships. These can be visualized as graphs with countries as vertices and borders as edges. (Note that to simplify the graphs I excluded all 75 islands = disconnected vertices except Australia.) There are two main partitions of this graph following the land-border geography: One with Europe, Asia and Africa and one with the Americas.

Border-Connected Countries in Europe, Asia, Africa

With the graph layout changed from “Spring Embedding” to “Spring Electrical Embedding” one obtains this interesting variation of the same graph which looks like a sword fish:

The "EurAsiAfrica Sword-fish"

The other partition of the Americas can be visualized in a circular embedding layout:

Europe, Asia, Africa (left) and Americas (right)

It is also interesting to look at the numbers for lengths of pairwise borders between two countries:

  • Number: 323 border-pairs
  • Minimum: 0.34 [km]
  • Maximum: 8893 [km]
  • Mean: 789.6 [km]
  • Total: 255048 [km]
  • Most pairwise borders are between 100 – 1000 km long, but they can as short as 1/3 km (China – Macau) or almost 9000 km (Canada – United States).

    When we look at the entire border length for each country, we see familiar names on top of the ranking:
    China: 22147 [km], Russia: 20293 [km], Brazil: 16857 [km], India: 14103 [km], Kazakhstan: 12185 [km], United States: 12034 [km]. It seems likely that the first four, the so called “BRIC” countries, owe part of their economic strength to their geography: Size, length of borders and number of neighbors influence the number of local trading partners and routes to them. There are many more correlations one can analyze such as between border length / number of neighbors and GDP / length of road network etc. One thing seems likely when it comes to the economy of world countries: Size matters, and so does Geography!

    Epilog: This analysis was all performed using Wolfram’s Mathematica 8. The built-in curated CountryData provides access to more than 200 properties of the world countries, including things like Population, Area, GDP, etc. Some cleaning of the borders lengths data was required to deal with different spellings of the same country. (If you’re interested in the data or source-code, please contact me via email.) List manipulation and mathematical operations such as summation are very easy to do in the functional programming paradigm of Mathematica. Graphs are first-order data structures with numerous vertex and edge operators. Charting is also fairly powerful with BarCharts, ListPlots and more advanced graph charting options. Which other software provides all this flexibility in one integrated package?

     
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    Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Recreational, Socioeconomic

     

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