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Putting On A Chernoff Face

Steve Wang, mathematics professor at Swarthmore College and a die-hard New York Yankees' fan, has applied a visual tool from statsitics to represent tendencies or characteristics of baseball managers. The technique is called Chernoff faces, and was invented in 1973 by Herman Chernoff, a Harvard statistician-physicist.

As a means of representing multivariate data, the Chernoff faces use facial expressions that people could easily understand. On a face, Wang used hair sizes, nose shapes, and smile widths to represent managerial tendecies, such as rates of bunting, stealing, and pinch-hitting. Based on statistics from the 2007 baseball season, some examples:

This is not the first time Chernoff faces have been used to represent baseball statistics. For example, in 2006, Alex Reisner used Chernoff faces to represent a baseball team's perfomance for a full year, based on winning percentage (face height, smile curve, hair styling), hits (face width, eye height, nose height), home runs (face shape, eye width, nose width), walks (mouth height, hair height, ear width), and stolen bases (mouth width, hair width, ear height).

Source: New York Times, April 1, 2008