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Statistical Computing
Statistical Graphics

Video library

XGobi: Dynamic Graphics for Data Analysis

Deborah F. Swayne, Dianne Cook, and Andreas Buja
Bell Communications Research (1991)
12:23 minutes

XGobi is interactive software for exploratory data analysis. This video is an introduction to XGobi which briefly presents its main functions -- linked brushing, the labelling of points, interactive scaling, rotation, grand tour.

Swayne and Buja had begun working together at Bellcore to design and write a program for their Sun workstations that would be based on Dataviewer, which had been written in Lisp by Buja when he was at the University of Washington in Seattle, but there was just one Symbolic workstation in a lab while there were Sun workstations on just about every desk.

At the same time, Cook, who was then a graduate student at Rutgers, had begun independently to design a very similar system. When the three saw each others' work, they decided to pool their efforts.

Since they hoped their work could be used by others, they chose to write in C, using the libraries of the X Window System, which is portable across UNIX workstations -- including linux. The original name of the software was XDataviewer, but the Bellcore trademarks people rejected it as being too close to some other product name. They similarly rejected lots of other reasonable names, until they accepted a couple of names that had been chosen for their rough association with swirling or constellations or deserts and sandstorms. Somehow XGobi was the favorite -- perhaps because it isn't too hard to type.

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