A&B Computing


Alpha Graph
By Arnold Wheaton
BBC Model B

 
Published in A&B Computing 1.07

Alpha Graph

Schools encourage the children to record their experiences but are not so good at asking them to analyse what their results mean and to think about relationships between different observations. This is certainly the case with much of the work done in early statistical work - the drawing of the histogram is frequently the end of the story.

Making a tally and drawing a bar graph of frequency of letters is a task often given to upper junior children. Alpha Graph allows the user to type in up to 500 letters. The screen is then cleared and the text replaced by a histogram displaying the frequency of each character in the extract. Individual letter totals can also be called up by pressing the appropriate letter key. The program then offers another option of selecting a further piece of text and histogram so that the user can compare the two.

The user guide suggests that the program can be used in many tallying activities where data fields can be represented symbolically by a letter, e.g. a traffic survey, where a letter can stand for a type of vehicle, and the two-graph facility used to compare two sites or the same site at two different times of day.

This program certainly enables more time to be spent on the discussion of the completed bar-chart and is a useful introduction to simple statistics. Unfortunately, it is limited by the fact that the maximum individual letter frequency score on the graph is 40. Above that, the user has to rely on the word count. A print out procedure would be a useful addition to the program so that more work could take place away from the screen. It would be more acceptable if the program had an adjustable scale facility. A good, flexible pictorial representation program would give better value for money.

Dave Reeder

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