Friday, December 12, 2008

Butterfly Diagram - A Data Visualization Model Created by Karl Haberl

When I first met Karl Haberl, a fellow board member of the TDWI Northwest Chapter, I was immediately impressed by his enthusiasm for BI equal to if not greater than my own - After our first chapter meeting, a group of us went to a local tavern to celebrate our success. Leave it to BI professionals to take 'back of the napkin' discussions to the BI level and enjoy it -- Well, speaking for myself, I enjoyed it.


I was introduced to a data visualization technique created by Karl Haberl -

Think pivot table on steroids -- Technically speaking, the name "butterfly" comes from the shape of the data-flow diagram.

The Row and Column data represents your strategy and your goals to achieve your strategy respectively. These are categorical, but linked directly to a department or organizations performance. A similar structure can also be found in the Viterbi algorithm, used for finding the most likely sequence of hidden states but unless you are a statistician, this method isnt the easiest for the layman. But, many of us are good at Excel. And folks, pivot tables arent daunting. You just got to get in and try.

But I digress...

The butterfly diagram show a data-flow diagram connecting the inputs x (columns like time or other continuous mathematical data points) to the outputs y that depend on them (rows, representing attribute data, more categorical in nature) for a "butterfly" step. This diagram resembles a butterfly hence the name.

It is a powerful visualization technique.

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