What is pie chart

Even though we see pie charts all the time, the question what is a pie chart seems to leave a lot of people confused about it. So let’s discuss the answer to the question what is a pie chart?

A pie chart, also known as a circle chart, is a statistical graphic that is circular in shape and is divided into slices to show numerical proportion. In a pie chart, the arc length of each individual slice and consequently its central angle, as well as area, is proportional to the quantity it represents. Even though it is named after its resemblance to a pie that has been sliced, there are variations in the way it is presented. The earliest known circular pictorial is credited to William Playfair’s Statistical Breviary all the way back in 1801.

They are widely used in the business world as well as in mass media. However, they have been criticized a lot and many experts actually recommend avoiding them as research has shown that it is difficult to draw comparisons between different sections of a pie chart or to compare data across different forms of these charts. They are increasingly being replaced in most cases by other plots like the bar chart, dot plot, box plot, etc.

In this chart having several sections, several values might be represented with the same or similar colors, making interpretation understandably difficult. Analyzing the relative accuracy of several such chart formats, it can be concluded that pie charts and doughnut charts produce similar error levels while reading them, and square pie charts offer the most accurate reading.

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