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Faceted Graphs with cdata and ggplot2

In between client work, John and I have been busy working on our book, Practical Data Science with R, 2nd Edition. To demonstrate a toy example for the section I’m working on, I needed scatter plots of the petal and sepal dimensions of the iris data, like so:

Unnamed chunk 1 1

I wanted a plot for petal dimensions and sepal dimensions, but I also felt that two plots took up too much space. So, I thought, why not make a faceted graph that shows both:

Unnamed chunk 2 1

Except — which columns do I plot and what do I facet on?

##   Sepal.Length Sepal.Width Petal.Length Petal.Width Species
## 1          5.1         3.5          1.4         0.2  setosa
## 2          4.9         3.0          1.4         0.2  setosa
## 3          4.7         3.2          1.3         0.2  setosa
## 4          4.6         3.1          1.5         0.2  setosa
## 5          5.0         3.6          1.4         0.2  setosa
## 6          5.4         3.9          1.7         0.4  setosa

Here’s one way to create the plot I want, using the cdata package along with ggplot2.

First, load the packages and data:


iris <- data.frame(iris)

Now define the data-shaping transform, or control table. The control table is basically a picture that sketches out the final data shape that I want. I want to specify the x and y columns of the plot (call these the value columns of the data frame) and the column that I am faceting by (call this the key column of the data frame). And I also need to specify how the key and value columns relate to the existing columns of the original data frame.

Here’s what the control table looks like:

The control table specifies that the new data frame will have the columns flower_part, Length and Width. Every row of iris will produce two rows in the new data frame: one with a flower_part value of Petal, and another with a flower_part value of Sepal. The Petal row will take the Petal.Length and Petal.Width values in the Length and Width columns respectively. Similarly for the Sepal row.

Here I create the control table in R, using the convenience function wrapr::build_frame() to create the controlTable data frame in a legible way.

(controlTable <- wrapr::build_frame(
   "flower_part", "Length"      , "Width"       |
   "Petal"      , "Petal.Length", "Petal.Width" |
   "Sepal"      , "Sepal.Length", "Sepal.Width" ))
##   flower_part       Length       Width
## 1       Petal Petal.Length Petal.Width
## 2       Sepal Sepal.Length Sepal.Width

Now I apply the transform to iris using the function rowrecs_to_blocks(). I also want to carry along the Species column so I can color the scatterplot points by species.

iris_aug <- rowrecs_to_blocks(
  columnsToCopy = c("Species"))

##   Species flower_part Length Width
## 1  setosa       Petal    1.4   0.2
## 2  setosa       Sepal    5.1   3.5
## 3  setosa       Petal    1.4   0.2
## 4  setosa       Sepal    4.9   3.0
## 5  setosa       Petal    1.3   0.2
## 6  setosa       Sepal    4.7   3.2

And now I can create the plot!

ggplot(iris_aug, aes(x=Length, y=Width)) +
  geom_point(aes(color=Species, shape=Species)) + 
  facet_wrap(~flower_part, labeller = label_both, scale = "free") +
  ggtitle("Iris dimensions") +  
  scale_color_brewer(palette = "Dark2")
Unnamed chunk 7 1

In the next post in this series, I will show how to use cdata and ggplot2 to create a scatterplot matrix.

Categories: Tutorials

Tagged as:

Nina Zumel

Data scientist with Win Vector LLC. I also dance, read ghost stories and folklore, and sometimes blog about it all.

8 replies

  1. The following is an alternative method using only the tidy verse packages:

    d = iris %>%
      mutate(row = seq(1, n())) %>%
      group_by(row) %>%
      nest() %>%
      mutate(keep = map(data, function(x) {
        x %>%
          gather('type', 'value', contains('.')) %>%
          separate('type', c('flower_part', 'measure'), sep = '[.]') %>%
          spread(measure, value)
      })) %>%
      dplyr::select(-row, -data) %>%
    ggplot(d, aes(x=Length, y=Width)) +
      geom_point(aes(color=Species, shape=Species)) +
      facet_wrap(~flower_part, labeller = label_both, scale = "free") +
      ggtitle("Iris dimensions") +
      scale_color_brewer(palette = "Dark2")
  2. This example can be done with one rbind and creating one trivial new column. I can also see the value in having a programmatic way of doing it using cdata to write a specification. But that mess of percentage sandwiches masquerading as “tidy”? It has pipes within functions within pipes. Where’s the value in that?

    1. The cdata system actually gives one extra additional ability to reason about these transforms.

      For example: for this direction (rowrecs_to_blocks()) any two row control table is an rbind in disguise (as this is), and any two column control table is a tidyr::gather() (so this isn’t a single tidyr::gather()).

      In fact the control table is literally the column re-namings you would do to solve this with an an rbind; but written in a very orderly and concise format, check out how the colored arguments match in the diagram comparing two solutions, below.

      Also in terms of Codd-style data manipulation algebra: rowrecs_to_blocks() is analogous to joining with the control table, and blocks_to_rowrecs() is its inverse (and looks a lot like a table widening followed by a summary/coalesce).

      Some articles and video developing the theory:

      Coordinatized Data: A Fluid Data Specification
      Fluid Data
      Fluid data reshaping with cdata
      Data Shaping with cdata

  3. There is indeed a tidyverse solution, but it is easier than what Justin proposes:

    out <- iris %>% 
      mutate(Key=seq_len(n())) %>%                       # add key (for 'spread')
      gather(flower_part, Value, -Species,-Key) %>%      # numeric data in long form
      separate(flower_part,into=c("Part","Measure")) %>% # Separate column with Length/width
      spread(Measure, Value)                             # put Length/Width in columns 
    out %>% ggplot(aes(x=Width, y=Length,col=Species, shape=Species)) +
      facet_grid(~Part) + geom_point()
    1. Ahh. I felt there was a simpler method I just was not coming up with it. Thanks for the example.

  4. Thanks for the post. Also could be accomplished with 3 sqldf statements

    septal = sqldf(‘select Species, “Septal” as flower_part, “Sepal.Length” as length, “Sepal.Width” as width from iris ‘)

    petal = sqldf(‘select Species, “Petal” as flower_part, “Petal.Length” as length, “Petal.Width” as width from iris ‘)

    iris_aug = sqldf(“select * from septal
    union all
    select * from petal”)

    But good to have other tools available and I have not used cdata much. The concept of a control table is nice.

    1. In fact cdata itself can translate the control table into SQL code realizing the transform (and thus be used with databases).

      controlTable <- wrapr::build_frame(
        "flower_part", "Length"      , "Width"       |
        "Petal"      , "Petal.Length", "Petal.Width" |
        "Sepal"      , "Sepal.Length", "Sepal.Width" )
      columnsToCopy = "Species"
      db <- DBI::dbConnect(RSQLite::SQLite(), 
      iris_r <- rquery::rq_copy_to(db, "iris", iris)
      res_tab <- rowrecs_to_blocks_q(
        controlTable = controlTable,
        my_db = db,
        columnsToCopy = columnsToCopy,
        showQuery = TRUE)
      # [1] "CREATE  TABLE `mvtrq_03508568885469357450_0000000001` AS  SELECT a.`Species`, b.`flower_part`, CASE  WHEN b.`flower_part` = 'Petal' THEN a.`Petal.Length`  WHEN b.`flower_part` = 'Sepal' THEN a.`Sepal.Length` ELSE NULL END AS `Length`, CASE  WHEN b.`flower_part` = 'Petal' THEN a.`Petal.Width`  WHEN b.`flower_part` = 'Sepal' THEN a.`Sepal.Width` ELSE NULL END AS `Width` FROM `iris` a CROSS JOIN `mvtrq_03508568885469357450_0000000000` b "
      rquery::rstr(db, res_tab)
      # table `mvtrq_03508568885469357450_0000000001` SQLiteConnection 
      #  nrow: 300 
      #  NOTE: "obs" below is count of sample, not number of rows of data.
      # 'data.frame':   10 obs. of  4 variables:
      #  $ Species    : chr  "setosa" "setosa" "setosa" "setosa" ...
      #  $ flower_part: chr  "Petal" "Sepal" "Petal" "Sepal" ...
      #  $ Length     : num  1.4 5.1 1.4 4.9 1.3 4.7 1.5 4.6 1.4 5
      # $ Width      : num  0.2 3.5 0.2 3 0.2 3.2 0.2 3.1 0.2 3.6
      # # or execute as a an rquery pipeline
      # iris_r %.>%
      #   rowrecs_to_blocks(
      #     .,
      #     controlTable = controlTable,
      #     columnsToCopy = columnsToCopy) %.>%
      #   execute(db, .)
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