Natural Resources Research

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 201–212 | Cite as

Creation of Histograms for Data in Various Mineral Resource and Engineering Problems: A Review of Existing Methods and a Proposed New Method to Define Bin Number

  • Louis St-Pierre
  • Yuksel Asli Sari
  • Mustafa Kumral
Review Paper


Histograms are widely used in geosciences for data analysis and visualization. In cases where a distribution is not fitted to data, histograms are often used to address various sampling- and interpolation-related aspects. However, the results of these applications are substantially affected by the histogram’s number of bins as determined by several binning methods. This paper proposes a new binning approach and compares it with various standard approaches to demonstrate the relative performance of the new approach. Cut-off grade optimization for polymetallic deposits, Monte-Carlo modeling, and derivation of conditional distribution, all of which use histograms, are used as case studies. The proposed technique is based on calculating the squared error for each bin in a histogram, and combining the error values to evaluate the total error for each histogram. The new technique then selects the bin number which minimizes the total error. The results showed that the new binning approach is well suited for binning small datasets and can be used in geoscience applications if needed.


Histogram bins Cut-Off grade Binning methods Conditional distribution 



The authors thank the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for supporting this research (Fund Number: 236482).


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Copyright information

© International Association for Mathematical Geosciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis St-Pierre
    • 1
  • Yuksel Asli Sari
    • 1
  • Mustafa Kumral
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mining and Materials EngineeringMcGill UniversityMontrealUSA

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