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Re: st: RE: -distplot- of multiple variables with variable used as symbol

From   Roger Harbord <>
Subject   Re: st: RE: -distplot- of multiple variables with variable used as symbol
Date   Wed, 04 Dec 2002 12:39:22 -0000

--On 04 December 2002 12:07 +0000 Nick Cox <> wrote:

Roger Harbord
I've encountered some strange behaviour in Nick Cox's
program -distplot-
published in STB-51.  It won't let me plot the distribution
functions of
more than one variable AND use another variable to label
the points,
although I can do either alone.

I'll use the automobile data to demonstrate so others can
try to replicate
the problem, although there's little purpose to the
commands in this
context - with my real data I'm comparing two distributions
graphically and
hoped to label the points so I can identify outliers at the
same time
(mainly for presentation purposes):

. use "C:\Program Files\StataSE\auto.dta"
(1978 Automobile Data)

. distplot length, c(J) s([rep78])

. * (worked fine)

. distplot length displacement, c(JJ) s(oo)

. * (also worked fine)

. distplot length displacement, c(JJ) s([rep78]o)
variable rep78 not found

. * Just to check I've got the syntax right in the s() option :
. graph length displacement weight, c(JJ) s([rep78]o)

. * (worked fine though a mess of a graph!)

. * describe my setup :

. which distplot
*! version 1.5.0 NJC 24 March 1999        [STB-51: gr41]

Anyone any idea what's going wrong here?  That error
message seems most
bizarre to me - how can Stata suddenly not be able to find rep78 ??
No mystery here: although this behaviour is not
documented, it is a straightforward consequence
of the method used, as may be seen by looking at
the code.

-distplot- temporarily -preserve-s and then restructures
the data when you want a plot of more than one variable.
The rationale for doing this was, presumably, to allow
a plot of more than 20 variables. Occasionally one has
a large bundle of variables all of the same kind and
it is desired to see a spaghetti plot showing their
collective pattern.

The side-effect, however, is that some variables in the
data set may disappear from sight while the graph is being produced.

A work-around would be for me to add an option specifying
variables which must be carried along, or for me to
parse the -sy()- argument and automatically identify
variables which the user clearly needs for the purpose.

I'll put that on a to-think-about list.


So a possible work-around for users such as me in the meantime would be to :

-reshape long- and use the by() option to -distplot- instead of multiple variables.

Just tried this and it seems to work fine.


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