Pioneer in Information Design to Speak at Yale

Edward R. Tufte, professor emeritus of political science, computer science and statistics and senior critic of graphic design at Yale, will give a lecture titled “Visual Explanations” on November 15 at 4 p.m. in the Yale Law School auditorium, 127 Wall St.

The talk is free and open to the public.

Tufte’s talk is the second in a series titled “In the Company of Scholars,” hosted by the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. During Yale’s Tercentennial year, each scheduled speaker is an alumnus of the Graduate School.

“The careers of our speakers demonstrate the invaluable role that graduate education has played and will continue to play as an essential contributor to the future well-being of the world,” said Dean Susan Hockfield. “Through their lives and their work, these men and women celebrate graduate education as an engine of human progress, both material and spiritual.”

Tufte earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in statistics from Stanford University and his Ph.D. in political science from Yale in 1968. He taught at Princeton and then returned to Yale in 1977 as a professor of political science and statistics. His early books include “Data Analysis for Politics and Policy,” “Size and Democracy” (with Robert A. Dahl) and “Political Control of the Economy.”

More recently, Tufte has turned his attention to information design. He is the author, designer and publisher of “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information,” “Envisioning Information” and “Visual Explanations.” These books have received some 40 awards for content and design.

“The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” was named one of the 100 best nonfiction books of the 20th century. It uses examples that range from Leonardo da Vinci sketches to typewritten notes from John Gotti’s racketeering trial. With attention to typography, binding and paper, traditional typesetting and multi-color press runs, Tufte created a book that is visually pleasing, entertaining and enlightening.

For several years Tufte has given one-day courses on visual and statistical evidence across the country for more than 60,000 students. Since becoming professor emeritus in 1998, he has worked on a new book titled “Cognitive Art,” constructed large outdoor steel sculptures and made prints with digital imaging. His prints and sculptures will be in a show at the Artists Space in New York from November 11 to January 13, 2001.

A fellow of the American Statistical Association, Tufte has advised the U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Science Foundation Board of Overseers for National Election Studies, IBM, Newsweek and television news networks.

The first lecture in the Tercentennial series was given by Tom Wolfe (Ph.D. American Studies, 1957), author of “A Man in Full,” “Bonfire of the Vanities,” “The Right Stuff,” “From Bauhaus to Our House” and other books.

Future speakers will be Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Kennedy; Robert Birgeneau, president of the University of Toronto; and Janet Yellen, former chief economic adviser to President Clinton and professor of economics at UC Berkeley.

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