Line graphs provide an excellent way to map independent and dependent variables that are both quantitative. When both variables are quantitative, the line segment that connects two points on the graph expresses a slope, which can be interpreted visually relative to the slope of other lines or expressed as a precise mathematical formula. Scatter plots are similar to line graphs in that they start with mapping quantitative data points. The difference is that with a scatter plot, the decision is made that the individual points should not be connected directly together with a line but, instead express a trend. This trend can be seen directly through the distribution of points or with the addition of a regression line. A statistical tool is used to mathematically express a trend in the data.
Line graphs are like scatter plots in that they record individual data values as marks on the graph. The difference is that a line is created connecting each data point together. In this way, the local change from point to point can be seen. This is done when it is important to be able to see the local change between any to pairs of points. An overall trend can still be seen, but this trend is joined by the local trend between an individual or small groups of points. Unlike scatter plots, the independent variable can be either scalar or ordinal. In the example above, a Month could be thought of as either scalar or ordinal. The slope of the line segments are of interest, but we would probably not be generating mathematical formulas for individual segments.
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