Charts Explained: Parallel Coordinates

Quadrigram Parallel Coordinates

Parallel Coordinates

Parallel coordinates are extremely powerful for visualizing complex data. First used for interpreting census survey information, these types of chart date back as far as the 19th century. As demand for interpreting data grew, these visualization types took a more prominent role with the rise of computerized software in the 1960s and 70s. Today, they are the “go-to” graph for analyzing complex data. Whether its for traffic control, data mining, or optimization of manufacturing processes, the possibilities here are infinite.


What are parallel coordinates good for?


These types of graphs are ideal for working with large data sets that require adding multiple variables in one graph. The power of this visualization type is that it shows the entire picture (e.g. “the forest”) while also showing specific parts of data (e.g. “the tree”). Therefore, parallel coordinates can be especially useful for learning potential correlations and consistencies that exist in your dataset. These may be especially useful for managing inventory, or for looking at relationships among different industrial sectors within an entire economy or even changes in population affect different entire groups. The goal with parallel coordinates is to take elements of a whole and explore patterns and possible correlations that may exist.

Parallel Coordinate

How does it work?


Parallel coordinates work for multiple variables in a graph. The vertical (y-plane) corresponds to numerical values starting from the highest (at the top) to the lowest (at the bottom). The horizontal (x-plane) corresponds to categorical or numerical variables. Each of the variables on the horizontal plane is marked by a straight vertical line which allows comparison of elements. The elements in the graph are read visually by color, position, and width-link. The interactive graph allows you to select path you wish to explore and examine the connection that exists between each of the different values within the data.


Parallel Coordinates in Quadrigram

Adding parallel coordinate charts in Quadrigram is quick and easy.

  1. Go to charts in toolbar menu and select parallel coordinates from the dropdown menu.
  2.  Once Parallel Coordinates are in the editor, choose the data from your file.
  3. Drag and drop the orange coded file into the blue coded box labeled “List of Values” on the bar menu on the right-handed side.

That’s it! From here you can filter or edit the graph with the bar menu on the right-handed side.

One of the drawbacks of using parallel coordinates is that most data visualization tools require a working knowledge of a programming language. We at Quadrigram believe in the power of data visualization. Without having to invest significant time and money, Quadrigram’s built-in parallel coordinate graphs give you the power to visualize complex data sets instantly and without the need for code.

Check out our gallery to see examples of Parallel Coordinates!



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