John Tukey is a pioneer in exploratory data analysis. Whenever we
take samples of a product or of public opinion, we amass a collection
of data points. If there are only two numbers that describe each
observation, like the height and weight of students in a class, then
that information can be plotted on a graph and we can see if the
points "cluster" to reveal some relationship between the two
quantities. But in the census data for a large city there may be many
different numbers that describe each observation, three or four or
more. John Tukey and his colleagues studied the "point clouds" that
arise in such situations and manipulated them on a computer screen
until patterns emerged that indicated relationships among different
variables. To this day, one of the most significant uses of
scientific visualization is in the analysis of such patterns in
statistical data.

Software for rotating point clouds has been developed by
Data Description Inc.

A site on
Exploratory Data Analysis
covers many aspects of the topic, as does the
Engineering
Statistics Handbook.

For more information about John Tukey and his work, see
the
biography the John Tukey.