A radar chart is a graphical method of displaying multivariate data in the form of a two-dimensional chart of three or more quantitative variables represented on axes starting from the same point. The relative position and angle of the axes is typically uninformative, but various heuristics, such as algorithms that plot data as the maximal total area, can be applied to sort the variables axes into relative positions that reveal distinct correlations, trade-offs, and a multitude of other comparative measures. The radar chart is also known as web chart , spider chart , spider web chart , star chart ,  star plot , cobweb chart , irregular polygon , polar chart , or Kiviat diagram  . It is equivalent to a parallel coordinates plot, with the axes arranged radially.
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Use a Kiviat Diagram to graphically represent, on a single diagram, how multiple items compare when they are evaluated against more than two variables. A Kiviat Diagram is composed of axes extending from a central point. Each axis represents a data category e. Each axis is scaled according to certain parameter values e.
Identify the different data categories variables that you want to evaluate e. A minimum of three data categories are required to create a Kiviat Diagram. Identify both the lowest and highest value within the data categories e.
Both values must fit on the axes. Divide the axes accordingly and at regular intervals e. Indicate the interval values at each interval. Plot the values on the axes using dots e. Once the values are plotted on the axes, connect the dots with a line. A footprint is formed on the diagram. When creating a Kiviat Diagram, put a caption on the chart describing whether the smallest or largest footprint is preferred.
For example, add "Smallest footprint is best" or "Largest footprint is best. It is possible to compare multiple items e. If doing so, use a different colour for each item to get a clear picture of each footprint. It is important to place a caption on the chart that identifies whether the smallest or largest footprint is preferred. People sometimes assume that the Kiviat Diagram with the biggest footprint is best, but this is not always the case.
For example, for a Kiviat Diagram that describes how closely a package meets certain business requirements, on a scale of one to 10 where 10 is best , the largest footprint is best assuming that the Kiviat Diagram is plotted with axes of one to 10, where one is towards the center and 10 is towards the outside.
If, however, you are looking at a Kiviat Diagram that describes the cost of bringing in a software package, based on certain cost factors, then the item with the smallest footprint is best assuming that you want to keep the cost as small as possible. When analyzing a Kiviat Diagram, look carefully at the surface area of the footprint. The surface area can be misleading. Imagine a Kiviat Diagram with six axes with a range on each axis from one to Plot one situation where the axis one value is one, the axis two value is 10, the axis three value is one, the axis four value is 10, the axis five value is one, and the axis six value is The footprint in this situation is narrow.
It is difficult to tell which situation is better by just looking at the surface area. Always keep in mind what each axis is evaluating. An axis with either a high value or a low value can be positive depending on the situation e. When comparing multiple items on one Kiviat Diagram e.
Visualize how much better or worse a particular footprint is by comparing it against the average for the other footprints. If multiple items are very close i. Separate diagrams provide a clear picture of what each footprint actually looks like. If you decide to build a separate Kiviat diagram for each item, print each diagram, in color, onto a transparency. Put the transparencies, stacked, on an overhead projector.
This allows you to see the images superimposed on each other. Additionally, it is possible to compare any two footprints or more -- just drop the ones that you want to compare onto the projector. When creating a Kiviat Diagram, it is best if all axes measure "good" characteristics, or "bad" characteristics. Do not mix good and bad characteristics. For instance, if you want to compare the number of bugs a bad thing found in an application in certain categories e.
Additionally, it is difficult to decide whether the "better" footprint is the smallest or largest footprint. Instead, create two Kiviat Diagrams -- one containing the bad characteristics, and one containing the good characteristics. The example Kiviat Diagram illustrates the different costs of four software packages. The costs include the initial cost of the software package, the customization cost, the training cost, the maintenance cost and the support cost.
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Better Kiviat Diagrams