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The {sherlock} R package provides powerful graphical displays and statistical tools to aid structured problem solving and diagnosis. The functions of the package are especially useful for applying the process of elimination as a problem diagnosis technique. {sherlock} was designed to seamlessly work with the tidyverse set of packages.

“That is to say, nature’s laws are causal; they reveal themselves by comparison and difference, and they operate at every multi-variate space-time point” - Edward Tufte

I would love to hear your feedback on sherlock. You can leave a note on current issues, bugs and even request new features here.

sherlock 0.6.0 is already in the works. In addition to fixing a few bugs and making enhancements to already-existing functionality, I will be adding new plotting, statistical analysis and helper functions, such as:

  • A new set of plotting functions and statistical tests called the Tukey-Duckworth test for problem diagnosis
  • load_files(), which is a function to read in and clean multiple files. Particularly useful when reading in multiple files having the same variables, for example reading in data from an experiment where data was logged and saved separately for each individual unit. Integration of a custom data cleaning function.
  • create_project_folder, which is a helper function to quickly create a project folder with a clever sub-folder structure for your project.


sherlock is available on CRAN and can be installed by running the below script:


You can also install the development version of sherlock from GitHub with:

# install.packages("devtools")


Here are a few examples:

# Loading libraries
#> Loading required package: ggplot2
#> Warning: package 'ggplot2' was built under R version 4.2.2
multi_vari_data %>% 
  draw_multivari_plot(response = force, 
                      factor_1 = cycle, 
                      factor_2 = fixture, 
                      factor_3 = line)


multi_vari_data_2 %>% 
  draw_multivari_plot(response = Length, 
                      factor_1 = Part, 
                      factor_2 = Operator, plot_means = TRUE)

#> Attaching package: 'dplyr'
#> The following objects are masked from 'package:stats':
#>     filter, lag
#> The following objects are masked from 'package:base':
#>     intersect, setdiff, setequal, union

polar_small_multiples_data %>% 
  filter(Mold_Cavity_Number %in% c(4, 6)) %>% 
  rename(Radius = "ID_2") %>% 
  draw_polar_small_multiples(angular_axis   = ID_Measurement_Angle, 
                             x_y_coord_axis = Radius, 
                             grouping_var   = Tip_Bottom, 
                             faceting_var_1 = Mold_Cavity_Number,
                             point_size     = 0.5, 
                             connect_with_lines = TRUE, 
                             label_text_size = 7) +
  scale_y_continuous(limits = c(0.09, 0.115))
#> Scale for y is already present.
#> Adding another scale for y, which will replace the existing scale.


polar_small_multiples_data %>% 
  filter(ID_Measurement_Angle %in% c(0, 45, 90, 135)) %>% 
  normalize_observations(response = ID, grouping_var = Tip_Bottom, ref_values = c(0.2075, 0.2225)) %>% 
  draw_multivari_plot(response    = ID_normalized, 
                      factor_1    = ID_Measurement_Angle, 
                      factor_2    = Mold_Cavity_Number, 
                      factor_3    = Tip_Bottom, 
                      x_axis_text = 6) +
  draw_horizontal_reference_line(reference_line = 0)
#> Joining, by = "Tip_Bottom"

youden_plot_data_2 %>% 
  draw_youden_plot(x_axis_var  = gage_1, 
                   y_axis_var  = gage_2, 
                   median_line = TRUE)
#> Smoothing formula not specified. Using: y ~ x

youden_plot_data %>% 
  draw_youden_plot(x_axis_var   = measurement_1, 
                   y_axis_var   = measurement_2, 
                   grouping_var = location, 
                   x_axis_label = "Trial 1", 
                   y_axis_label = "Trial 2")

timeseries_scatterplot_data %>%
  draw_timeseries_scatterplot(y_var = y, 
                              grouping_var_1 = date, 
                              grouping_var_2 = cavity, 
                              faceting       = TRUE, 
                              limits         = TRUE, 
                              alpha          = 0.15,
                              line_size      = 0.5, 
                              x_axis_text    = 7,
                              interactive    = FALSE)
#> Joining, by = c("date", "cavity")
#> Warning: Removed 6 rows containing missing values (`geom_point()`).


Diagnosing Performance and Reliability, David Hartshorne and The New Science of Fixing Things, 2019

Statistical Engineering - An Algorithm for Reducing Variation in Manufacturing Processes, Stefan H. Steiner and Jock MacKay, 2005