Welcome to Information re. ScatterBrain(TM)


ScatterBrain is designed to facilitate the exploration, analysis, and presentation of data sets in a hands-on, interactive fashion.  In its simplest use, the points in a single x-y type scatterplot can be identified, and their underlying associated data displayed in a user-specified format in a data window. Data for multiple points can be presented in the data window for ease of making comparisons.  Individual points can be identified either with the aid of a mouse cursor, or by typing in a name associated with each row of data.  In addition, multiple points can be selected and counts, totals, simple averages, and user-specified weighted averages calculated and presented in the data table.

As individual data points are identified their names can be deposited on the screen at locations determined by the mouse location.  This in itself is a very useful feature when identifying points which are in close proximity to one another.

In addition, still focusing on a presentation that displays only a single graph, regression lines (also sometimes called average slope or trend lines) can be superimposed upon the plotted points and lines representing one or two standard errors of the estimate above and below the regression line may be displayed as well.

One of the most unique features of ScatterBrain has not yet been mentioned.  All of the features described above can be used on multiple, interrelated scatterplots.  Up to four such graphs can be shown simultaneously.  And when a point is identified and begins to blink on and off in one graph, it will blink in the same color in all graphs.  In addition, the specified data written to the data window for the corresponding row of data is color coded for ease of making a visual connection between the data shown and the location of the corresponding point in each graph.  When multiple points are identified at once in one graph, all of the corresponding points are simultaneously highlighted in the same color in all of the other graphs then being shown.  

Actually using ScatterBrain is more interesting than reading about how it works.  Following is an example created using the US Census data attached to the downloadable census.jar version.


This view was created with ScatterBrain in the mode that uses multiple points.  A feature permitted enclosing approximately 10-11 percent of all students in each of the two sets of districts selected. The scatter plot located districts based upon the percentages of heads of households who did not have high school degrees (y-axis) versus the percentages of heads of households having college degrees (x-axis). The two rows of data show that although both sets of districts spent approximately the same amount per pupil, those with less-educated parents had nearly 7 times the poverty rate among children, one-third the houshold income, and lived in homes less than a third of the value of those housing families in  the more educated group. There is also a distinct geographical pattern to these points, which can be observed. Points highlighted in one graph are also highlighted in the same color in any other graphs being dispayed. Up to four graphs can be shown simultaneously.

Downloading and Trying ScatterBrain

ScatterBrain is written in Java. This means that Java must be installed in order to run it. If Java is not already installed on your computer, Java can be downloaded from java.com.

The program has been bundled with two different data sets which can be downloaded by clicking on the links below. Ordinarily to get from raw data to a presentable chart requires several steps--choosing variables to be plotted, establishing scales, reference lines, and so forth.  The two options available for downloading come not only with attached data, but with what is called a setup file that creates the graphs, formats the associated data table, instantly puts them on the screen. If you choose, you can modify the graphs and options and save those changes in a new setup file, and save it on your own storage device.  Once created, either manually from scratch or by a previously saved setup file, the graphs can be interactively queried.

The ScatterBrain Demo Instructions were written assuming the user was using the data included with the version census.jar, with the link "ScatterBrain With US Census Texas Education Data" below.  These jar files are actually executable zipped files.  After being downloaded and saved, double-clicking on the file name will cause the program to be executed.  The Demo Instructions should allow you to use a number of features, thereby getting a feel for how it works.  More complete detail is contained in the ScatterBrain User's Guide.  Both of these documents are in Microsoft Word (c) format.

Click to download:
ScatterBrain Demo Instructions
ScatterBrain User Guide
ScatterBrain with US Census Texas Education Data

Another education-related data set used to demonstrate ScatterBrain's methods to display and query includes school finance data for Texas school districts for school year 2004-2005.  The original documentation for these data is no longer available, so the data should be considered as illustrative only, and should not be cited for any other purpose.  School district spending and property wealth data are often normalized by dividing each by the number of weighted students in the district.  The weighted student counts include many of the factors that direct addiitional state dollars to districts for such  criteria as numbers of students eligible for free or reduced price meals, numbers of special education students, numbers needing special instruction in the English language, and others.  Theoretically, if all of these factors are accounted for, total state and local dollars per weighted  pupil should be virtually the same for all districts within a certain range of wealth and tax rates, but different for districts with different tax rates.  The following graphic was produced with this data set.  It shows that for a large proportion of Texas school districts, including some 85 percent of all students, the "equal reward for equal tax effort" rule indeed prevails.  For those districts whose tax rates or property wealth per pupil exceeds the upper bounds, much higher levels of total revenue per weighted pupil are observed. It is alleged that this lack of equalization has grown worse in recent years due to the failure of state funding to keep up with student grown, thus reducing the amount of state dollars available for equalization




Click to download:
ScatterBrain with Texas School District Finance Data

Click below to download version with TEA AEIS data. This is made avaiable for non-commerecial use only.
ScatterBrain with AEIS data

Final Comments

The version of ScatterBrain included in these download files is fully functional except that it will not read data files other than those which are packaged with it in each case. The data files used are simply tab-delimited files with field names in the first row, integer row ID numbers in the first column, alphanumeric names associated with each row in the second column.  All other columns contain numeric data.

ScatterBrain is still a work in progress.  Much of the recent work, and progress, has been by my son, Laurence Toenjes, who, in a weak moment, just couldn't prevent himself from becoming involved in this project.


If you would like to try ScatterBrain with your own files send me an email.  This offer is only for non-commercial use.

Larry Toenjes
711 West Shore Drive,
Clear Lake Shores, TX 77565
ltoenjes@aol.com