Apart from the iconic and mysterious Australian Nullarbor http://www.nullarbornet.com.au/ (literally ‘no’, or actually very few, trees) and the baddest and saddest of outer suburban concrete jungles, trees are a major part of our daily life. Trees produce shade and oxygen, and provide inspiration for dreaming scientists watching apples fall. ‘Tree of life’. ‘Family trees’. Tree branches have also long provided a metaphor for branches of knowledge and classification systems.
In his excellent new book ‘The book of trees: visualizing branches of knowledge’,
Manual Lima, Designer and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (http://www.visualcomplexity.com/vc/) examines the role of trees in history, religion, philosophy, biology, computer science, data visualization, information graphics and data analysis / statistics.
Covering various types of tree graphs, including radial trees, sunbursts, Ben Schneiderman’s Treemaps and Voronoi Treemaps, Lima’s treatise provides inspirational historical and contemporary pictures, including timely applications such as looking at the words that appear with ‘I’ and ‘you’ in Google texts.
Statistical applications covered are mainly confined to Icicle plots or trees, used in applications such as cluster analysis, or the grouping observations into related classes, ‘taxa’ or clusters such as disease categories.
Not published in the Northern hemisphere until April 2014, the book is available now in Melbourne, Australia for around $50, e.g. www.ngvshop.ngv.vic.gov.au (the online search does not work) or http://metropolisbookshop.com.au
Accompanied by sources of information on how to construct such diagrams (e.g. http://www.flowingdata.com ) Lima’s new book will serve as an accessible and constant source of information on visualizing trees for new, as well as existing, ‘arborists’.
‘Velut arbor aevo’
‘May the Tree Thrive’!