Think about when you first get a dataset. You open the file, not always sure what to expect, and you go through summary charts and statistics to get a sense of what you’re dealing with.
Maybe you plug the dataset into a tool for a quick overview. Maybe you generate a bunch of quick charts to see what’s there. Maybe you see something odd or interesting, and you poke some more in that area.
In spending time with the dataset, you generate knowledge about the numbers and hopefully you glean something useful. Statistician John Tukey called this exploratory data analysis in his 1977 book of the same name.
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