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Archive for June 2009

Eurovis 2009 Papers

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The Eurovis 2009 conference concluded a few days ago in Berlin. Here are some of the papers that I found interesting. Links for all the papers are not available yet, but I shall update the post as and when I find them. Here is the whole list of accepted eurovis 2009 papers.

The keynote talk was given by Pat Hanrahan who is known to give very insightful and thought provoking keynote and capstone talks. This keynote talk was titled Systems of Thought. You can also take a look at his slides from other talks on this website

This year at the conference, they awarded 3 best paper awards. Congratulations to the authors of the papers! These are the ‘best paper award winners’:

Visualisation of Sensor Data from Animal Movement
Edward Grundy, Mark W. Jones, Robert S. Laramee, Rory P. Wilson and Emily L.C. Shepard – In this paper they present a unique way of visualization data obtained from sensors attached to animals as they move around the world. Animals such as the cormorant, sea turtles and such were tagged with tri axial accelerometers and tracked through time.grundy

On Visualization and Reconstruction from Non-Uniform Point Sets using B-Splines
Erald Vuçini, Torsten Möller and M. Eduard Gröller vucini

Collaborative Brushing and Linking for Co-located Visual Analytics of Document Collections
Petra Isenberg and Danyel Fisher – In this paper they discuss a collaborative interface to interact with a collection of documents. The collaborative interface is called Cambiera and is a table top analytics tool. You can also see a video of users interacting with Cambiera on Youtube. isenberg

Here are some of the other papers that I thought were very interesting and hope to go through them in more detail (as they become available) :

Illuminated 3D Scatterplots
Harald Sanftmann, Daniel Weiskopf – In this paper, the authors tackled an important and challenging problem of visualizing 3D scatterplots. 2D scatterplots are well known to convey data effectively. The use of illumination to better visualize the 3D nature of the data was a very elegant solution and seems to work quite well. scatterplots

Instant Volume Visualization using Maximum Intensity Difference Accumulation
Stefan Bruckner and M. Eduard Gröller – This paper proposes a novel way to integrate along the ray in the volume rendering process. The idea is very unique and provides excellent results. Since techniques such as MIP, DVR are part of every volume rendering course, seeing such novel and interesting techniques is always exciting. mida

Semi-Automatic Time-Series Transfer Functions via Temporal Clustering and Sequencing
Jonathan Woodring, Han-Wei Shen – Time-varying data visualization is always challenging due to the large amounts of data that needs to be visualized. The authors propose a clustering and sequencing based technique to generate ‘semi-automatic’ transfer functions for the data. semi_tf

A Directional Occlusion Shading Model for Interactive Direct Volume Rendering
Mathias Schott, Vincent Pegoraro, Charles Hansen, Kévin Boulanger, Kadi Bouatouch – I enjoyed reading this paper a lot since people rarely seem to talk about anything other than ambient occlusion these days. This paper presents an elegant and unique way to provide occlusion shading with reasonable frame rates. Looking forward to implementing this soon. directional_occlusion

Visualization of Vessel Movements
Niels Willems, Huub van de Wetering, Jarke J. van Wijk – This paper provides a very beautiful solution to the problem of visualizing vessels coming in and out of a port. I enjoy reading J. J. van Wijk’s papers and this and the next one are not any different. movementdensitysmall

Force-Directed Edge Bundling for Graph Visualization
Danny Holten, Jarke J. van Wijk – The authors follow up on the excellent paper from IEEE Vis 2005 on ‘Hierarchical Edge Bundles: Visualization of Adjacency Relations in Hierarchical Data‘ (which was mentioned in one of my previous posts on Seminal infovis papers), with another great paper. This paper has already received a lot of attention here, here and here. Here is a screenshot showing migration patters in the united states. force_bundles

Context-Aware Volume Modeling of Skeletal Muscles
Zhicheng Yan, Wei Chen, Aidong Lu, David Ebert

Map Displays for the Analysis of Scalar Data on Cerebral Aneurysm Surfaces
Mathias Neugebauer, Rocco Gasteiger, Oliver Beuing, Volker Diehl, Martin Skalej, Bernhard Preim

Visual Analysis of Brain Activity from fMRI Data
Firdaus Janoos, Boonth Nouanesengsy, Raghu Machiraju, Han Wei Shen, Steffen Sammet, Michael Knopp, István Á. Mórocz

Empowering people with visualization

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This post was heavily inspired by an article in the Economist magazine which can be found at

I wanted to draw the attention to some of the excellent information from the article and hope that we see many such endeavors. – Money and Politics: Illuminating the connection 


Dan Newman of, a group based in Berkeley, California that charts the links between politicians and money.

With maps, you can show people how an abstract concept connects to where they live.

Starting in January 2007, it tracked which states (those growing sugar-beets and sugar-cane, it turned out) were making the most generous political donations in the run-up to a vote in July 2007 on subsidies for the sugar industry.

The Grim Reaper’s road map: An atlas of mortality in Britain
by Mary Shaw, Bethan Thomas, George Davey Smith and Daniel Dorling. More information, visualizations and even data can be found at Here’s a screenshot from their book. 


Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in Columbus, Ohio project- This visualization shows the geographical locations of the workforce in innovation sectors in Massachusetts. As can be expected, the concentration in the Boston and Cambridge area is very high as compared to the rest of the state. 


Social explorer lets you explore, save and create slidshows of visualizations of the census 2000 data. The first screenshot shows the interface that allows you to interact with the data. The bottom screenshot shows the median age around the New Haven, CT area. Since, New Haven is mostly a college town, the median age being lower than the surrounding counties in Connecticut makes sense.



Ushahidi, which means ”testimony” in Swahili, is a very innovative website that was developed to map user reported violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008. It has already been adapted and used by and

The top two images show Violence and Voter inconsistencies as reported by users. The bottommost image shows Swine Flu cases all over the world. Such field reporting-based visualizations can be invaluable, especially now that a worldwide swine flu pandemic has been declared by the WHO. In a previous post, we have seen different visual representations of the Swine Flu Pandemicvotereport_in_violencevotereport_in_namemissingswine_flu_ushahidi

My favorite quote from the article was “We don’t just want to be about mapping,” says John Kim of Healthy City. “Maps don’t change the world, but people who use maps do.” 

I would like to believe that today we can say something like “Visualizations dont change the world, but people who use visualizations do.” 

If you have seen other examples of visualizations that have impacted policies, laws or helped draw attention to a problem, please add it in the comments section.

Seminal information visualization papers

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Here is an article that I wrote at is a great resource for all things related to graphics and visualization and is one of the websites that I regularly visit to keep updated with the field. This article has been updated with resources that some of the visitors mentioned in the comments section and I thank them for the same.

I have been thinking about making a list of some of the most seminal information visualization papers. These are papers that have made an impact and can be widely seen in the media (print/web) or are being adopted in visualization software/systems such as VTK, Prefuse, Many Eyes and so on. I may have missed out on a few papers, so please feel free to add any that you think are ‘must-reads’ for an infovis researcher.

Disclaimer: The list in no particular order of preference.

Here’s the list:

  1. Cluster and Calendar based Visualization of Time Series Data, Jarke J. van Wijk and Edward R. van Selow, Proc InfoVis 99, p 4-9. vanwijk-300x242
  2. Polaris: A System for Query, Analysis and Visualization of Multi-dimensional Relational Databases, Chris Stolte, Diane Tang and Pat Hanrahan, IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Vol. 8, No. 1, January 2002. polaris
  3. The Eyes Have It: A Task by Data Type Taxonomy for Information Visualizations, Ben Shneiderman, Proc. 1996 IEEE Visual Languages. An interesting sentence from the paper – “Information exploration is inherently a process with many steps, so keeping the history of actions and allowing users to retrace their steps is important. However, most prototypes fail to deal with this requirement.” I feel that with the amazing ‘provenance’ based work that Claudio Silva’s group at the University of Utah are doing on Vistrails, some of this is being finally addressed.
  4. How Not to Lie with Visualization, Bernice E. Rogowitz and Lloyd A. Treinish, Computers In Physics 10(3) May/June 1996, pp 268-273.not_to_lie
  5. Excentric Labeling: Dynamic Neighborhood Labeling for Data Visualization. Jean-Daniel Fekete and Catherine Plaisant. Proc. CHI’99, pages 512-519. There is a new paper this year at EuroVis 2009 that extends the techniques proposed in this paper – Extended Excentric Labeling by Enrico Bertini, Maurizio Rigamonti and Denis Lalanne. excentric
  6. VisDB: Database Exploration using Multidimensional Visualization, Daniel A. Keim and Hans-Peter Kriegel, IEEE CG&A, 1994 visdb
  7. Parallel Coordinates: A Tool for Visualizing Multi-Dimensional Geometry. Alfred Inselberg and Bernard Dimsdale, IEEE Visualization ‘90, 1990.pc
  8. Smooth and Efficient Zooming and Panning. Jack J. van Wijk and Wim A.A. Nuij, Proc. InfoVis 2003, p. 15-22 zoompan
  9. Snap-Together Visualization: Can Users Construct and Operate Coordinated Views? Chris North, B. Shneiderman. Intl. Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Academic Press, 53(5), pg. 715-739, (November 2000)snap
  10. Hotmap: Looking at Geographic Attention Danyel Fisher, IEEE TVCG 13(6):1184-1191 (Proc. InfoVis 2007).hotmap
  11. Tree visualization with treemaps: a 2-d space-filling approach, Ben Shneiderman, ACM Transactions on Graphics, vol. 11, 1 (Jan. 1992) 92-99 and B. Johnson and B. Shneiderman, “Tree-maps: A Space Filling Approach to the Visualization of Hierarchical Information Structures“, Proc. of Vis ‘91, Oct. 1991, pp. 284-291.tm1
  12. Danny Holten (2006), Hierarchical Edge Bundles: Visualization of Adjacency Relations in Hierarchical Data, IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, vol. 12, no 5, pp. 741-748. – This has already been implemented in VTK and is very useful for visualizing hierachical data.edge_bundles
  13. Tamara Munzner, Francois Guimbretiere, Serdar Tasiran, Li Zhang, and Yunhong Zhou (2003), TreeJuxtaposer: Scalable Tree Comparison using Focus+Context with Guaranteed Visibility, SIGGRAPH 2003 , published as ACM Transactions on Graphics 22(3), pp. 453-462.clade
  14. M. Stone, “Choosing Colors for Data Visualization“, 2006. stone
  15. Penny Rheingans (1999). Task-based Color Scale Design. Proceedings of Applied Image and Pattern Recognition ‘99, SPIE, pp. 35-43.task_based
  16. F. Viegas, M. Wattenberg, F. van Ham, J. Kriss, and M. McKeon, “ManyEyes: A Site for Visualization at Internet Scale“, IEEE Trans. on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Vol. 13, No. 6, Nov.-Dec. 2007, pp. 1121-1128.manyeyes
  17. J. Heer, S. Card, J. Landay, “prefuse: a toolkit for interactive information visualization“, Proceedings of ACM CHI ‘05, April 2005, pp. 421-430.banner
  18. John Lamping , Ramana Rao , Peter Pirolli, A focus+context technique based on hyperbolic geometry for visualizing large hierarchies, Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, p.401-408, May 07-11, 1995, Denver, Colorado, United States
  19. S. Havre, B. Hetzler, and L. Nowell, “ThemeRiver: Visualizing Theme Changes over Time”, Proceedings of the 2000 IEEE Information Visualization Symposium, Salt Lake City, Oct. 2000, pp. 115-123. Image from Theme river inspired work – Stacked Graphs: Geometry & Aesthetics, IEEE InfoVis 2008
  20. M. Wattenberg and J. Kriss, “Designing for Social Data Analysis,” IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics Vol. 12, No. 4, Jul.-Aug. 2006, pp. 549-557.namevoyager

Other than these papers, these books are a source of invaluable advice about visualizing data.


What other papers/books would you add to this list?


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