Should Florence Nightingale be credited with inventing the Pie Chart?

We had a friend visit overnight and conversation ranged widely. Including the question, ‘Who invented the Pie Chart?’

Me, stumped. Answer proffered – Florence Nightingale. Well, well. That’s a good question for my blog readers, said I. Better do a bit of googling on the topic.

What do you think? Is it likely or unlikely that she’s credited with inventing the pie chart.

Diagram_of_the_causes_of_mortality_in_the_army_Wellcome_L0050236The simple answer is no she didn’t. It was William Playfair who invented the pie chart, along with the line chart and the bar chart to help explain statistical data.

As with many things, it’s not quite so straightforward to say that Florence Nightingale didn’t invent the pie chart. Having the education, skill, and interest in mathematics she used this knowledge to enable her to better argue that more soldiers died of poor hygiene in military hospitals than from wounds. She used a polar chart – see image [click to expand] – to describe Diagram of the Causes of Mortality in the East. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to credit Florence Nightingale with furthering the use of pie charts.

Hat tip: Welcome Images for diagram.

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