Understanding segregation with a simulation

In 1971, Nobel laureate economist Thomas Schelling proposed that a desire to have neighbors of the same race — even a small percentage — can lead to segregation. The model has been simulated through a variety of interactives before, but in Parable of the Polygons, Vi Hart and Nicky Case put extra effort into teaching the model, bringing playfulness to an otherwise serious subject.

Two groups of people are encoded as shapes — squares and triangles — and they take you through each step of the model. Use the sliders to adjust thresholds and population distributions, and run the simulation. The shapes on the left move if they’re looking for similarity, and the line chart on the right shows segregation over time.

You end up with an understanding of how segregation works (however simplified this model might be) and a glimmer of hope of how we might shift directions.

Worth a try.


Think Like a Statistician – Without the Math

I call myself a statistician, because, well, I’m a statistics graduate student. However, the most important things I’ve learned are less formal, but have proven extremely useful when working/playing with data.

Years You Have Left to Live, Probably

The individual data points of life are much less predictable than the average. Here’s a simulation that shows you how much time is left on the clock.

How We Spend Our Money, a Breakdown

We know spending changes when you have more money. Here’s by how much.

10 Best Data Visualization Projects of 2015

These are my picks for the best of 2015. As usual, they could easily appear in a different order on a different day, and there are projects not on the list that were also excellent.