A brief introduction to nomography: graphical representation of mathematical relationships
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© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Nomographs (or nomograms, or alignment charts) are graphical representations of mathematical relationships (extending to empirical relationships of data) which are used by simply applying a straightedge across the plot through points on scales representing independent variables, which then crosses the corresponding datum point for the dependent variable; the choice among independent and dependent variable is arbitrary so that each variable may be determined in terms of the others. Examples of nomographs in common current use compute the lift available for a hot-air balloon, the boiling points of solvents under reduced pressure in the chemistry laboratory, and the relative forces in a centrifuge in a biochemical laboratory. Sundials represent another ancient yet widely familiar example. With the advent and ready accessibility of the computer, printed mathematical tables, slide rules and nomographs became generally redundant. However, nomographs provide insight into mathematical relationships, are useful for rapid and repeated application, even in the absence of calculational facilities, and can reliably be used in the field. Many nomographs for various purposes may be found online. This paper describes the origins and development of nomographs, illustrating their use with some relevant examples. A supplementary interactive Excel file demonstrates their application for some simple mathematical operations.
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