Michael Friendly

Michael Louis Friendly (born 1945) is an American psychologist, Professor of Psychology at York University in Ontario, Canada, and director of its Statistical Consulting Service, especially known for his contributions to graphical methods for categorical and multivariate data, and on the history of data and information visualisation.[1][2]

Michael Friendly
Photo mosaic of Michael Friendly, composed of image tiles from the history of data visualization
Born (1945-05-07) May 7, 1945
ResidenceToronto, Ontario
CitizenshipCanadian, American
Alma materPrinceton
Known formosaic plot
Scientific career
FieldsPsychology, data visualization, statistics
InstitutionsYork University, Toronto
Doctoral advisorHarold Gulliksen


Born in New York City, Friendly obtained his BS in 1966 from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and his MS in 1969 from Princeton University. In 1971/2 he also obtained his PhD in psychology at Princeton under supervision of Harold Gulliksen and Peter Ornstein, with the thesis titled "Proximity Analysis and the Structure of Organization in Free Recall."[3][4]

Friendly's first research project in the field of psychometrics and cognitive psychology had started at the Educational Testing Service and Princeton University, and was made possible by a Psychometric Fellowship awarded by the Educational Testing Service. After graduation Friendly jointed the Department of Psychology at the York University in Ontario, Canada, where he continued his research. At the York University he was appointed Associate Professor and later on Professor of Psychology, and since 1985 also director of its Statistical Consulting Service.

Friendly is Associate Editor of the Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics and an Editor of Statistical Science. In 2018 he became a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.[5]


Friendly's research interests have developed over years. It started in the 1970s with the application of quantitative and computer methods to problems in cognitive psychology, including the cognitive aspects of extracting information from graphical displays.[6] In the 1990s Friendly started focussing on the history of statistics and data visualization, and furthermore graphical methods for data and information visualization.[7]


Friendly is the author of five books and numerous research papers. Books:

  • 1988. Advanced Logo: A Language for Learning. Hillsdale, N.J. : Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • 1991. SAS System for Statistical Graphics. Medium: Paperback.
  • 2000. Visualizing Categorical Data. Cary, NC: SAS Institute.
  • 2006. Visual statistics : seeing data with dynamic interactive graphics. With Forrest W. Young and Pedro M. Valero-Mora. Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley-Interscience.
  • 2016. Discrete Data Analysis with R: Visualization and Modeling Techniques for Categorical and Count Data. With David Meyer. Boca Raton, FL : Chapman & Hall/CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-4987-2583-5. Publisher's web site Support web site

Articles, reports, papers. A selection:

  • 1991. "Interpreting higher order interactions in loglinear analysis: A picture is worth 1000 words". With John Fox. Tech. rep., Institute for Social Research, York University, Toronto, CA.
  • 1992. "Graphical methods for categorical data". In: Proceedings of the SAS User's Group International Conference, 17:1367-1373.
  • 1994. "A fourfold display for 2 by 2 by K tables". Tech. Rep. 217, York University, Psychology Dept.
  • 1994. "Mosaic displays for multi-way contingency tables". In: Journal of the American Statistical Association, 89:190-200.
  • 2000. "A brief history of the mosaic display." Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics. 11(1):89-107. URL
  • 2000. "The roots and branches of statistical graphics". With Dan Denis. In: Journal de la Société Française de Statistique, 141(4):51-60. (published in 2001).
  • 2007. "A brief history of data visualization". In: C. Chen, Wolfgang Härdle and Antony Unwin, eds., Handbook of Computational Statistics: Data Visualization, vol. III, chap. 1, pp. 1–34. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.
  • 2007. "Visualizing nature and society". With Gilles Palsky. In: James R. Akerman and Robert W. Karrow, eds., Maps: Finding Our Place in the World, pp. 205–251. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • 2007. "HE plots for Multivariate General Linear Models." Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics, 16, 421-444.
  • 2008. "Milestones in the history of thematic cartography, statistical graphics, and data visualization".[8]


  1. Young, Forrest W.; Valero-Mora, Pedro M.; Friendly, Michael (2011). Visual Statistics: Seeing Data with Dynamic Interactive Graphics. Wiley.
  2. Rosenberg, Daniel, and Anthony Grafton. Cartographies of time: A history of the timeline. Princeton Architectural Press, 2013.
  3. Friendly, Michael L. "Proximity Analysis and the Structure of Organization in Free Recall." (1972).
  4. Michael Friendly at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. ASA Fellows List, American Statistical Association, retrieved August 7, 2018
  6. SAS System for Statistical Graphics,First Edition, 1st edition ABSTRACT From the Publisher. Retrieved 07 July 2008.
  7. Profiles of Faculty Members in the History and Theory of Psychology Area. Department of Psychology. York University. Retrieved 07 July 2008.
  8. (PDF). October 29, 2017 http://www.math.yorku.ca/SCS/Gallery/milestone/milestone.pdf. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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