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By Adam Aston
Edward Tufte defies easy categorization. His academic training and work at Stanford, Princeton, and Yale span statistics, computer science, political economy, and design. Yet he is best known for what began as a cri de coeur, published in 1983 in the form of a meticulously elegant book: The Visual Display Of Quantitative Information. Tufte's treatise—part academic text and part coffee-table book—takes aim at the confusing and just-plain-awful graphic design then proliferating in print and subsequently, on screen. In that first volume and in others since, Tufte shows how data visualization can be done well and how powerful it can be as a tool.