Polar rose plot

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A polar rose plot (or roseplot / rose diagram and sometimes a rhodonea plot) is an angle histogram showing the distribution of values grouped according to their numeric range (viewed as a "polar plot"). It is similar to a polar rose (i.e. with r = cos(k)) but not necessarily symmetric, as the symmetry (or "direction" of petals) is entirely dependent on the input data.

Example roseplot - taken from GenomeAtlas by CBS

A roseplot is useful for viewing the "direction" of input data. It is commonly used for plotting the daily (or yearly, etc.) average wind direction at a given location (sometimes called a "wind direction plot" or a "wind rose").

Roseplots display degree, radian, or grad data versus a radial axis. Like histograms, roseplots display statistical data, showing the number of occurrences of an event that fall within a specific angular region.

I routinely use roseplots in my bioinformatics research. They are especially useful for getting an overview of amino acid- or nucleotide-usage in a given genome or sequence (see figure).


The polar equation of the rose is

r = α*sin(nθ)
r = α*cos(nθ)

If n is odd, the rose is n-petalled. If n is even, the rose is 2n-petalled. Integer values of n give the kind of roseplots described in this article.

Related R packages

  • climatol — see rosavent: Wind-rose plot

External links