I am getting started with visualization, but right at the start I am having a serious conceptual problem. Repeatedly, I get the error ‘x and y must be the same size’ / ‘array must be the same length’ / ‘have the same shape’. I just fundamentally don’t understand why that must be so. Let me give you an example:

I go bowling once a day, every day, for a month. I keep track of my scores. I want to know what day of the week I get the best scores. I want to make a chart with days of the week on the y axis, and dates of the month on the x axis. My scores go in each intersection of these two axes. There are 7 days in a week, and 28 (just to ignore a few days getting more turns) days in a month. Clearly, x and y are not the same length, and yes, I get an error. But so what? Why is that an issue? Every day and date will get a score. I would think it is much more common for x and y to not be the same length in the real world.

For example, how would anyone ever be able to do a long running time series? So clearly there is something fundamental about charts that I just am not grasping. Can you tell me what it is? Thanks.


Yes, and bars, too...

import altair as alt
import pandas as pd

data = pd.DataFrame({'y': ['Monday', 'Tuesday', 'Wednesday', 'Thursday', 'Friday', 'Saturday', 'Sunday'],

ValueError                                Traceback (most recent call last)
/tmp/ipykernel_233189/3256713105.py in <module>
~/.virtualenvs/PapasBook/lib/python3.9/site-packages/pandas/core/internals/construction.py in _extract_index(data)
    633             lengths = list(set(raw_lengths))
    634             if len(lengths) > 1:
--> 635                 raise ValueError("All arrays must be of the same length")
    637             if have_dicts:

ValueError: All arrays must be of the same length
  • $\begingroup$ What error, from where? x and y axes most certainly do not have to be the same size. Indeed they are rarely even in the same units. Are you talking about a scatterplot? $\endgroup$
    – Sean Owen
    Jul 26, 2021 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, and bars, too. $\endgroup$ Jul 26, 2021 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ "...you're asking for 7 rows, but also 31 rows" I thought I was asking for 7 rows and 31 columns. It is the same issue. altair-viz.github.io/getting_started/starting.html "When using Altair, datasets are most commonly provided as a Dataframe. As we will see, the labeled columns of the dataframe are an essential piece of plotting with Altair." I had this same issue with matplotlib before I gave up and went to Altair. Bokeh, however, does not insist on the use of pandas... Thanks $\endgroup$ Jul 30, 2021 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ You're misunderstanding the DataFrame constructor. You need to pass N values for each column you specify in the dict. You are not supplying the same number of values. I'm confused what you think this would do - what do you think the x and y values you supply here specify as data in the table? $\endgroup$
    – Sean Owen
    Aug 12, 2021 at 13:34

1 Answer 1


You aren't making a plot here. You're creating a DataFrame. A DataFrame is like a table, with rows and columns. You are specifying two columns x and y, but don't give the same number of values. It's like you're asking for 7 rows, but also 31 rows.

I believe you really mean to create a DataFrame with three columns: dayOfWeek, dayOfMonth, and score. A row represents one score, along with the day of week and day of month it happened.

This kind of data could be correctly used for all kinds of plots then.


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