Posts for Tag: visualization

Splitting the US by Population

Posted In: Geography | Maps
map of US split into 8 regions by population

This visualization lets you divide the US into 1,2,3,4,5,8 and 10 different segments with equal population and across different dimensions. The divisions are made using counties as the building blocks (of which there are 3143 in the US). There are numerous different ways to make the divisions. This lets you make the divisions by different types of geographic directions and divisions by population density.


  • Select a dimension on which to divide up the country – there are geographic dimensions, like north to south or east to west, or by population density
  • For some geographic divisions (concentric rings or pie slices), you can choose the geographic center of the divisions
  • You can also choose the number and color scheme of the divisions
  • To show the divisions, either click the Animate Counties button or use the slider to add counties

If you can think of other interesting ways to divide up the US, please let me know and I can try to add them to this visualization.

Sources and Tools:
2018 county population data is from US Census Bureau. The map visualization is created using the Leaflet javascript mapping library and the data wrangling and user interface and interactivity are created using HTML, CSS and Javascript code.

dividing up US by population

US Baby Name Popularity Visualizer

Posted In: Fun
baby name popularity visualizer

I added a share button (arrow button) that lets you send a graph with specific name. It copies a custom URL to your clipboard which you can paste into a message/tweet/email.

How popular is your name in US history?

Use this visualization to explore statistics about names, specifically the popularity of different names throughout US history (1880 until 2020). This is a useful tool for seeing the rise (and fall) of popularity of names. Look at names that we think of as old-fashioned, and names that are more modern.


  • Start typing a name into the input box above and the visualization will show all the names that begin with those letters. The graph will show the historical popularity of all these names as an area graph.
  • You can hover (or click on mobile) to bring up a tooltip (popup) that shows you the exact number of births with that name for different years (or decades) and the names rank in that time period.
  • It’s best used on computer (rather than a mobile or tablet device) so you can see the graph more clearly and also, if you click on a name wedge, it will zoom into names that begin with those letters.
  • You can select different views, Boy names, Girl names or both, as well as looking at the raw number of births or a normalized popularity that accounts for the differential number of births throughout the period between 1880 and 2020.
  • If you click the share (arrow) button, it will copy the parameters of the current graph you are looking at and create a custom URL to share with others. It copes the link into your clipboard and your browser’s address (URL) bar.

Isn’t there something out there like this already? Baby Name Wizard and Baby Name Voyager

This visualization is not my original idea, but rather a re-creation of the Baby Name Voyager (from the Baby Name Wizard website) created by Laura Wattenberg. The original visualization disappeared (for some unknown reason) from the web, and I thought it was a shame that we should be deprived of such a fun resource.

It started about a week ago, when I saw on twitter that the Baby Name Wizard website was gone. Here’s the blog post from Laura. I hadn’t used it in probably a decade, but it flashed me back to many years ago well before I got into web programming and dataviz and I remember seeing the Baby Name Voyager and thinking how amazing it was that someone could even make such a thing. Everyone I knew played with it quite a bit when it first came out. It got me thinking that it should still be around and that I could probably make it now with my programming skills and how cool that would be.

So I downloaded the frequency data for Baby Names from the US Social Security Administration and set to work trying to create a stacked area graph of baby names vs time. I started with my go to library for fast dataviz (Plotly.js) but eventually ended up creating the visualization in d3.js which is harder for me, but made it very responsive. I’m not an expert in d3, but know enough that using some similar examples and with lots of googling and stack overflow, I could create what I wanted.

I emailed Laura after creating a sample version, just to make sure it was okay to re-create it as a tribute to the Baby Name Wizard / Voyager and got the okay from her.

Where does the data come from?

Some info about Data (from SSA Baby Names Website):

All names are from Social Security card applications for births that occurred in the United States after 1879. Note that many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data.

Name data are tabulated from the “First Name” field of the Social Security Card Application. Hyphens and spaces are removed, thus Julie-Anne, Julie Anne, and Julieanne will be counted as a single entry.
Name data are not edited. For example, the sex associated with a name may be incorrect.

Different spellings of similar names are not combined. For example, the names Caitlin, Caitlyn, Kaitlin, Kaitlyn, Kaitlynn, Katelyn, and Katelynn are considered separate names and each has its own rank.

All data are from a 100% sample of our records on Social Security card applications as of March 2021.

I did notice that there was a significant under-representation of male names in the early data (before 1910) relative to female names. In the normalized data, I set the data for each sex to 500,000 male and 500,000 female births per million total births, instead of the actual data which shows approximately double the number of female names than male names. Not sure why females would have higher rates of social security applications in the early 20th century. Update: A helpful Redditor pointed me to this blog post which explains some of the wonkiness of the early data. The gist of it is that Social Security cards and numbers weren’t really a thing until 1935. Thus the names of births in 1880 are actually 55 year olds who applied for Social Security numbers and since they weren’t mandatory, they don’t include everyone. My correction basically makes the assumption that this data is actually a survey and we got uneven samples from males and female respondents. It’s not perfect (like the later data) but it’s a decent representation of name distribution.

Sources and Tools:
The biggest source of inspiration was of course, Laura Wattenberg’s original Baby Name Explorer.

I downloaded the baby names from the Social Security website. Thanks to Michael W. Shackleford at the SSA for starting their name data reporting. I used a python script to parse and organize the historical data into the proper format my javascript. The visualization is created using HTML, CSS and Javascript code (and the d3.js visualization library) to create interactivity and UI. Curran Kelleher’s area label d3 javascript library was a huge help for adding the names to the graph.

baby name popularity visualizer

Compound Interest and Stock Returns Calculator

Posted In: Economics | Money
compound interest and stock return calculator

Calculate returns on regular, periodic investments

This calculator lets you visualize the value of investing regularly. It lets you calculate the compounding from a simple interest rate or looking at specific returns from the stock market indexes or a few different individual stocks.


  • Enter the amount of money to be invested monthly
  • Choose to use an interest rate (and enter a specific rate) or
  • Choose a stock market index or individual stock
  • Use the slider to change the initial starting date of your periodic investments – You can go as far back as 1970 or the IPO date of the stock if it is later than that.
  • Use the “Generate URL to Share” button to create a special URL with the specific parameters of your choice to share with others – the URL will appear in your browser’s address bar.

You can hover over the graph to see the split between the money you invested and the gains from the investment. In most cases (unless returns are very high), initially the investments are the large majority of the total balance, but over time the gains compound and eventually, it is those gains rather than the initial investments that become the majority of the total.

Some of the tech stocks included in the dropdown list have very high annualized returns and thus the gains quickly overtake the additions as the dominant component of the balance and you can make a great deal of money fairly quickly.

It becomes clearer as you move the slider around, that longer investing time periods are the key to increasing your balance, so building financial prosperity through investing is generally more of a marathon and not really a sprint. However, if you invest in individual stocks and pick a good one, you can speed up that process, though it’s not necessarily the most advisable way to proceed. Lots of people underperform the market (i.e. index funds) or even lose money by trying to pick big winners.

Understanding the Calculations
Calculating compound returns is relatively easy and is just a matter of consecutively multiplying the return. If the return is 7% for 5 years, that is equal to multiplying 1.07 five times, i.e. 1.075 = 1.402 (or a 40.2% gain).

In this case, we are adding additional investments each month but the idea is the same. Take the amount of money (or value of shares) and multiply by the return (>1 if positive or <1 for negative returns) after each period of the analysis.  
Sources and Tools:
Stock and index monthly data is downloaded from Yahoo! finance is downloaded regularly using a python script.

The graph is created using the open-source Plotly javascript visualization library, as well as HTML, CSS and Javascript code to create interactivity and UI.

compound interest and stock return calculator

How much wealth do the world’s richest billionaires have?

Posted In: Money
treemap of billionaires

This dataviz compares how rich the world’s top billionaires are, showing their wealth as a treemap. The treemap is used to show the relative size of their wealth as boxes and is organized in order from largest to smallest.

User controls let you change the number of billionaires shown on the graph as well as group each person by their country or industry. If you group by country or industry, you can also click on a specific grouping to isolate that group and zoom in to see the contents more clearly. Hovering over each of the boxes (especially the smaller ones) will give you a popup that lets you see their name, ranking and net worth more clearly.

The popup shows how much total wealth the top billionaires control and for context compare it to the wealth of a certain number of households in the US. The comparison isn’t ideal as many of the billionaires are not from the US, but I think it still provides a useful point of comparison.

This visualization uses the same data that I needed in order to create my “How Rich is Elon Musk?” visualization. Since I had all this data, I figured I could crank out another related graph.

Sources and Tools:
Data from Bloomberg’s Billionaire’s index is downloaded regularly using a python script. Data on US household net worth is from DQYDJ’s net worth percentile calculator.

The treemap is created using the open-source Plotly javascript visualization library, as well as HTML, CSS and Javascript code to create interactivity and UI.

how rich are billionaires

How Rich is Elon Musk? – Visualization of Extreme Wealth

Posted In: Money
How rich is elon musk

See related visualization: How much wealth do the world’s richest billionaires have?

This visualization attempts to represent how much money Elon Musk, the richest person in the world, has. It gives context on this extreme amount of wealth by showing other very large sums of money that are somehow less than his net worth.

Each pixel on the screen represents a very modest amount of money (from $500 to $4000). As you scroll to the right, you will start to understand how incredibly large one billion dollars is, let alone hundreds of billions. You can change the amount of scrolling needed to get to the end of the visualization by selecting the amount represented by one pixel in the drop down menu.

This visualization was inspired heavily by a similar visualization made by Matt Korostoff for Jeff Bezos (when he was the richest person in the world) called “Wealth shown to scale”.

If you have any ideas about other items that could be added to the money chart, please leave them in the comments, and I will see if I can add it.

Mega-billionaires such as Musk or Jeff Bezos are not just extremely rich, the wealth they possess is unimaginably large. There are some extremely rich folks shown in the visualization who can buy pretty much whatever they could ever possibly need and yet their wealth is closer to that of the average person than they are to that of Elon Musk.

Sources and Tools:

The full list of data sources for the various money amounts are listed below. The visualization was made using HTML, CSS and Javascript code to create interactivity and UI. Data from Bloomberg’s Billionaire’s index , which is the source of Musk’s (and others) estimated wealth, is updated regularly.

Full List of Data Sources:

how rich is elon musk

Using up our carbon budget

Posted In: Environment
1.5 degree carbon budget graph

How much more CO2 can we emit if we want to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5°C or 2°C?

Every bit of CO2 we release is one step closer to using up our carbon budget.

Click on the animate button (or use the slider) to see how we have used up our carbon budget to limit global warming to 1.5°C or 2°C.

Climate change is the result of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane from human activities. The amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere determines how much of the incoming solar radiation is trapped as heat. Since CO2 is the most common greenhouse gas and very long lived in the atmosphere, there’s a good correlation between the total amount of human CO2 emissions and the amount of warming that the earth will experience. This leads to the concept of a carbon budget.

What is the carbon budget?

For every ton of CO2 that is emitted into the atmosphere about half a ton becomes part of the atmosphere for the long term, assuming there’s no massive new program to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. And there’s a direct correlation between the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and the earth’s temperature. Scientists tend to look at milestones of 2°C or 1.5°C when thinking about potential future warming. There is some uncertainty, but the total amount of human CO2 emissions that will lead to a 1.5°C warming from pre-industrial levels is around 2200 billion metric tonnes of CO2 plus or minus a few hundred billion tons (or 460 billion metric tonnes from 2020). This unit is also written as GtCO2 or gigatonnes of CO2. The values for the budget for 2°C warming are 1310 GtCO2 from 2020 or 2993 GtCO2 from pre-industrial levels.

Shown below is a graph from the Carbon Brief that shows the uncertainty in estimates for the remaining carbon budget (from 2018) before having a 50% chance of exceeding 1.5°C warming. As you can see there’s a fairly large range.

Estimates for allowable CO2 emissions before having a 50% change of exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius warming

Update: The article’s author Zeke Hausfather pointed me to an updated article with newer IPCC estimates for the carbon budget of these two warming milestones. I have updated the code to account for these two new values.

What may happen at 1.5 degrees of warming?

1.5°C (2.7°F) doesn’t sound like alot, but there are some pretty serious potential consequences that we’ll be dealing with. These include increasing the amount or frequency of the following:

  • extreme heatwaves
  • droughts
  • extreme storms and precipitation events
  • loss of wildlife and biodiversity
  • sea level rise
  • and impacts of human health

This NASA article has much more info on the specific issues related to this temperature rise. Ideally we’d keep warming to under 1.5°C but it looks likely that we may exceed 2°C unless we take fairly dramatic action to reduce or CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and use cleaner/lower-carbon sources of energy, like renewables and nuclear power.

From 1750 to 2020, humans have emitted approximately 1683 GtCO2. The IPCC estimates that 460 GtCO2 would put us at 1.5°C warming and 1310 GtCO2 would put us at 2°C warming. These values give us an estimated total carbon budget of 2143 GtCO2 for 1.5°C and 2993 GtCO2 for 2°C warming.

You can really see how we are getting close to using up all of our 1.5°C carbon budget and the speed at which we are using it up, especially in the last few decades.

Sources and Tools:

Annual emissions data is from the Global Carbon Project. The visualization was made using the plotly.js open source graphing library and HTML/CSS/Javascript code for the interactivity and UI.

1.5 degree carbon budget