Schottenbauer Publishing

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Origin of Graphs

What is the meaning of the term "origin"? 

According to, there are up to eight meanings, two of which are mathematical. The first of these is commonly found in elementary and post-secondary graph-reading skills, while the second (not included here) pertains to more advanced math. 

To answer the above question using the common math definition: Every graph in a Cartesian coordinate system has an origin, which is defined as the intersection of the axes. 

Placement of the origin can dramatically affect the presentation of the graph. Consider the following two graphs, which present the same data, but with different origins.

Discussion Questions
  1. For each graph, identify the following coordinates: (a) Initial Position, (b) Final Position, (c) Minimum Position, and (d) Maximum Position. 
  2. What is the relevance of the origin in each graph (if any)?
  3. Which graph is more useful for visual analysis?
  4. Do any additional differences exist between the graphs? If so, what difference(s) exist?
  5. Do the graphs contain any distortion of data, due to method of collection? If so, what is the distortion? How might the distortion be corrected?

Now, consider a different meaning of "origin." This definition is not mathematical; rather, it refers to "the first stage of existence," or the creation of an entity.

Using this definition, what are the origins of the over 8,000 graphs of sports, transportation, construction, environment, music, entertainment/toys, and general physics from Schottenbauer Publishing

Created by M. Schottenbauer, Ph.D. in laboratory settings, these graphs represent several years of intermittent data collection and graphing activity. The objects studied in the graphs consist of the properties and motion of toys, hobby equipment, household objects, musical instruments, and sports equipment, measured and manipulated by the author. All music and sports activities were conducted by the author, including performance samples on 33 musical instruments and exercises from over 30 sports. Videos of some of these activities are available on YouTube.

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