Why Are Graphs Important?

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Graphs are beneficial because they summarize and display information in a manner that is easy for most people to comprehend. Graphs are used in many academic disciplines, including math, hard sciences and social sciences. They make appearances in corporate settings, serving as useful tools to convey financial information and facilitate data analysis.

Different graphs are used depending on the information that individuals wish to convey. Many graphs are used to concisely and clearly summarize data; the best type of graph to use depends on the type of data being conveyed (such as nominal, scale-discrete, scale-continuous and ordinal). Data summary graphs are generally nominal or contain data that can be reduced in some way; pie charts and bar charts are common and popular examples. Pie charts represent subcategories by breaking components into slices or disks, while bar charts present data in linear form. Pie charts are ideal for relaying information with five or fewer categories, while bar charts are better for showing differences among larger subgroups. Histograms are used to highlight averages and variations within and among datasets and are used for ordinal or scale-oriented data sets. Graphs may be displayed on paper or electronically and are often added to computer-generated spreadsheets in business settings and to facilitate scientific lectures.