Box-and-Whisker Plot


A box-and-whisker plot (sometimes called simply a box plot) is a histogram-like method of displaying data, invented by J. Tukey. To create a box-and-whisker plot, draw a box with ends at the quartiles Q_1 and Q_3. Draw the statistical median M as a horizontal line in the box. Now extend the "whiskers" to the farthest points that are not outliers (i.e., that are within 3/2 times the interquartile range of Q_1 and Q_3). Then, for every point more than 3/2 times the interquartile range from the end of a box, draw a dot. If two dots have the same value, draw them side by side (Gonick and Smith 1993, p. 21). Box-and-whisker plots are implemented in the Wolfram Language as BoxWhiskerChart[data].


A number of other slightly different conventions are sometimes used. In Tukey's original definition, the closely-related and lesser known hinges H_1 and H_3 were used instead of Q_1 and Q_3 (Tukey 1977, p. 39). In addition, Tukey's original formulation lacked horizontal crossbars, extended the whiskers all the way to the extreme data points, and drew an unfilled dot at the maximum and a hatched horizontal strip at the minimum, as illustrated above (left figure; Tukey 1977, p. 40). A variation extended the whiskers only out to some arbitrary minimum and maximum values and identifying the outliers with explicit labels (Tukey 1977, p. 41). Tukey also considered an additional variation in which the outliers are indicated separately and whiskers are dashed, ending with dashed crossbars at "adjacent values" (values closest to but still inside the inner fences).

See also

Dot Plot, Hinge, Histogram, Interquartile Range, Quartile, Statistical Median Explore this topic in the MathWorld classroom

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Chambers, J.; Cleveland, W.; Kleiner, B.; and Tukey, P. Graphical Methods for Data Analysis. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1983.Gonick, L. and Smith, W. The Cartoon Guide to Statistics. New York: Harper Perennial, p. 21, 1993.NIST/SEMATECH. "Box Plot." § in NIST/ SEMATECH e-Handbook of Statistical Methods., J. W. "Box-and-Whisker Plots." §2C in Exploratory Data Analysis. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, pp. 39-43, 1977.

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Box-and-Whisker Plot

Cite this as:

Weisstein, Eric W. "Box-and-Whisker Plot." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource.

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