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Spiral charts in phase space

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about the New York Times’s spiral chart of Covid cases. Rather than wade in on the merits or otherwise of this particular form of projection, I thought I’d share some thoughts on a context where a spiral carries meaningful information — phase space.

Observable makes it an ideal platform to explore and reason about such projections


this is great jo!!

good line: “they are more than descriptors of some state, but rather a characterisation of process, and as such closer to a representation of knowledge rather than data.”

and i hadn’t seen Slowdown, love it.

one design note, i might try to mark the initial condition across all charts with a little dot or something, to distinguish beginning from end. you could also include the dot on the charts where the x-axis is time, to reinforce the meaning of the dot.

some other phase portrait notebooks you might’ve seen: