Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
The VisWeek 2009 website has been update with a list of all the accepted papers for this year.
The list can be found at
InfoVis Papers: http://vis.computer.org/VisWeek2009/infovis/sessions_papers.html
I am particularly happy to see that Vis and InfoVis will overlap slightly this year. It will showcase the best work from both the fields and allow for researchers to interact and form new collaborations. There seem to be some really interesting papers, workshops and tutorials. Other new features this year are the Discovery Exhibition and the Forum on Geometric Aspects of Machine Learning and Visual Analytics. Looking forward to an interesting conference in Atlantic City, NJ.
He motivated the audience by making a very strong case for why there is a need to use Visual Analytics software. He basically said that there was a much wider customer base, than one would imagine, for quality visual analytics tool. What was interesting to me was that he said that his definition of a successful visual analytics tool was how widely adopted that tool was. I personally believe that its the best way to make sure that users have the power of visual analytics at their finger tips.
He basically said that we havent optimized the impact of visual analytics until you help users with their own data. The demo of Tableau was my favorite part, where he would end up interacting with simple datasets to show how easy it was to get insight or just know more about the data.
I think my favorite quote from the talk was ‘Visual analytics can help people test their hunches even when they lead to nowhere.’ This was great since this is exactly the purpose of visualization. The idea of interacting with your data to learn more but also just confirm what you already know.
He then showed an amazing demo of presidential donations data from new york city. Comparisons of Obama and McCain showed some wondreful, interesting patterns in parts of new york, like the upper east side and so on. Some of those patterns were expected for those who know the demographics of new york city.
Some of the highlights of the talk were:
- Most analytics tasks dont result in ‘Aha’ discoveries.
- People dont like to admit they need outside help to make discoveries about their own data.
- Visualization and Visual Analytics helps people think of what questions to ask. More importantly, it helps them enter the Visual analysis cycle of interact, explore, visualize, obtain insight – rinse and repeat :)
His most imprtant statement of the keynote speech was that “The number one reason people buy visual analytics software was to save time.”
I think it was the kind of keynote that makes you think and shakes you up a bit. I agree that we needed to hear some of those words. I particularly enjoyed the talk, since I had mentioned Tableau Software in one of my previous blog posts on ‘Visualizing companies leading the way.’ After listening to the talk, I feel more confident that Tableau will make a big difference in the Visual analytics and business analytics community. If you have anything to say about the keynote, please feel free to add a comment.
The IEEE Visweek 2008 had a bunch of wonderful workshops. I particularly enjoyed the ‘Understanding Federal Funding: Agencies, Initiatives, and Peer Review‘ workshop which was led by Terry Yoo who represented National Institutes of Health (NIH). The other workshop participants were Christine Chalk from the Department of Energy (DOE) and Larry Rosenblum from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
They basically said that given the state of the economy, it is almost certain that the funding situation is going to be bad for the next fiscal year. But given that, I really enjoyed the advice they had for the audience. Terry spoke about how its important to find the right institute within the NIH to apply to. He stressed on the fact that its extremely important to send your grant to the right place to ensure that you get funding for your research. Here’s a list of the institutes that comprise NIH. Christine spoke about DOE’s diverse funding opportunities but how sometimes they get less applications than they expect. Its definitely something to remember for all those who can apply for funding to the DOE.
Larry Rosenblum probably gave some priceless advice regarding how a grant should be written and what are the ‘donts’ about a grant. He gave some excellent examples of things that worked in grants. All their slides can be downloaded at http://erie.nlm.nih.gov/~yoo/edu/tutorials/vis2008/index.html
The next workshop that I was very excited about was the ‘From Theory to Practice: Design, Vision and Visualization‘ which was organized by Lyn Bartram, Maureen Stone and Diane Gromala. They have some slides online at http://www.stonesc.com/Vis08_Workshop/. I look forward to some more such endeavors from the community. We need many more such discussions to make sure that no one ever uses a rainbow colormap again
Some of the other interesting workshops that were conducted can be found at http://vis.computer.org/VisWeek2008/session/workshops.html. Unfortunately, I couldnt attend them but will definitely hope to look at some of the slides from those workshops. If any of you attended those workshops, pls feel free to comment on them in the comments section.
Geometry-Based Edge Clustering for Graph Visualization
WeiWei Cui, Hong Zhou, Huamin Qu, Pak Chung Wong, Xiaoming Li
This paper reminded me of a similar paper from Stanford called ‘Flow Map Layout‘. That paper had some crisp, clean images which conveyed information effectively. In the talk, WeiWei presented geometric handles that they provide to control the edge clustering for improved graph visualization. They use a ‘control mesh’ that can be generated at different levels of detail (manually or automatically) based on the graph structure. I thought the results looked good, but its use is limited if the user cannot easily interact with the provided tools.
On the Visualization of Social and other Scale-Free Networks
Yuntao Jia, Jared Hoberock, Michael Garland, John C. Hart
In this paper, they introduce a graph layout algorithm that reduces the overlap between edges.
This was interesting since later in the week, Frank van Ham in his talk said that users tried hard to reduce the number of overlapping edges when they were asked to make their own layout of social networks.
Exploration of Networks Using Overview+Detail with Constraint-based Cooperative Layout
Tim Dwyer, Kim Marriott, Falk Schreiber, Peter J. Stuckey, Michael Woodward, Michael Wybrow
This paper discussed the results of collaborations with biologists to visualize complex biological
networks. I think we need to encourage such collaborative projects and maybe have some more
initiatives in the form of awards and incentives to get more researchers to work in such a collaborative manner.
Rapid Graph Layout Using Space Filling Curves
Chris Muelder, Kwan-Liu Ma
In this talk, Chris presented an interesting idea to create graph layouts. In particular, I liked the use of the Peano curve (one of the space filling curves used in the paper) for graph layout. I think that semantic zooming will make their work extremely interesting and as per the future work section in their paper, they are planning to do it.
Improving the Readability of Clustered Social Networks using Node Duplication
Nathalie Henry, Anastasia Bezerianos, Jean-Daniel Fekete
This was an extremely enjoyable talk, particularly because the Nathalie did a very good job of conveying the content of the paper by mixing in some well time humor. Her talk focused on
the visualizing social networks and discussed some of her previous work and proposed results of an evaluation of some new techniques to visualizing such graphs. Duplicating an actor in social networks was found to be promising for social network analysis. Since analyzing social networks is such a topic of interest for security purposes, this work is quite timely.
Effectiveness of Animation in Trend Visualization
George Robertson, Roland Fernandez, Danyel Fisher, Bongshin Lee, John Stasko
This was an interesting presentation by George, where he presented some of their work on evaluating
the effectiveness of animations in presentations and analysis. Their user study particularly
was focused on evaluating the effectiveness of techniques such as those used in Hans Rosling’s
famous talk from TED 2006 on Global health, poverty and infant mortality etc. If you have not
seen the video yet, it can be seen at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2670820702819322251
Perceptual Organisation in User-Generated Graph Layouts
Frank van Ham, Bernice E. Rogowitz
This was a very enjoyable talk since in this project, they took the approach of letting random web users create their own layout for social graphs. The idea was to analyze their layouts and see if they can uncover underlying clusters in the social graphs. They found that users used the edges to delineate the boundaries of the graph. This is completely contrary to all the graph layout algorithms which have a sunburst style layout. It was great to see Bernice Rogowitz at the conference again. She has done some wonderful work as regards color and its used in creating effective visualizations. Here’s a list of some of her publications. The ‘Which Blair‘ project from Vis ’01 and the ‘The end of the rainbow‘ work with Lloyd Treinish.
Spatially Ordered Treemaps
Jo Wood, Jason Dykes
This was a talk in which they used treemaps whose ordering was based on spatial constraints. It
was a project where the authors worked with geographers and found that they preferred to maintain
spatial relationships between items. The layout along with some bezier vectors that they added
to the layouts to show some temporal relationships made for a unique talk.
The InfoVis 2008 was an extremely enjoyable and interesting talk where Jake actually talked about some of the truth that visualization researchers need to here. It was very interesting to hear how he
focused on information-centricity and how focusing on the data and information is critical.
What most strongly resonated with me was the emphasis on “Visualization-based interaction”. He
said that visualizations needs to go beyond simply showing information to the user and start focusing on becoming a rich medium for exploration, annotation and sharing.
Most of the remaining talk focused on how his company had dealt with some of the challenges
of deploying a visualization software, Command post of the future (CPOF) where they needed to get real time data to military personnel for facilitate fast decision making and reduce the uncertainty for all the
parties involved. The ability to share and collaborate remotely made it a success and I think it is truly a fascinating visualization story.
He introduced a concept of collaboration literacy which extends the concept of visual literacy
and verbal literacy. Visual literacy and verbal literacy are well known. Collaboration literacy discusses how we collaborate and how we learn to collaborate, right from simple daily face-to-face meetings to virtual telepresence.
Some of the things that he mentioned that according to me are critical for us visualization researchers are:
- We need to realize that visualizations are the medium that users use to understand information.
- Dont make users do extra work. I completely agree with this and I think that Google’s success
has been partly due to this exact reason. For example, now when we try to search for keywords
in Google, they suggest commonly used keywords that will make it easier to search.
- More ways to incorporate self-synchronization where users across the board are able to understand
the information and are able to synchronize their knowledge with what other users have at that time.
Alternatively, some annotations and interactions can let one know that the user on the other
side has understand some key concepts and so they are on the same page and start interacting from there on.
Lately, there have been some new API’s and tools for creating new visualizations as well as creating visualizations more easily. Some of these tools/api’s are not-so-new (but are new to me). Readers of this blog already know my inclination to Many Eyes to which I have referred to before.
Google Visualization API – Is an excellent Visualization API released by Google to allow the creation of new visualizations from multiple data streams. Users are encouraged to not only use pre-built visualizations but are also able to create and share their new visualizations for other users. Their Gadget gallery has some excellent examples.
Processing - Processing is an open source programming language that is increasingly being used for creating captivating visualizations that not only provide insight but as serving as art pieces. It has been used widely in exhibitions as well as talks. A visualization created by processing is called a Sketch. A collection of such sketches can be found at the gallery on the processing website. There is also another movement to share processing sketches at OpenProcessing which as described by the author “is a ‘flickr’ish place for processing community to share their sketches, comment on each other’s pieces, etc..” It is also being used as one of the tools to teach a new course at Harvard by Hanspeter Pfister. More details at http://www.seas.harvard.edu/courses/cs171/
Flare - is a flash based version of the Prefuse toolkit (authored primarily by Jeff Heer and others), which is an excellent visualization toolkit. Prefuse has been used very widely in numerous projects and I anticipate the same for Flare. As per the website, Flare is already being used in Many Eyes. Checkout some demos on their website.
If you know of any more interesting API’s tools that allow the creation of new/cool visualizations, please feel free to post here in the comments.
Non-photorealistic rendering emerged out of the need for researchers to render a scene in styles other than photorealistic. Researchers have published their excellent work on topics as diverse as painterly rendering, charcoal rendering, pen-and-ink rendering, blueprint rendering and sketch drawing.
Painterly rendering as mentioned above is a type of non-photorealistic rendering. It deals with generating an image that mimics a painter’s attempt at generating a painting of a particular scene. This topic has received immense attention due to its “coolness factor” as well as complexity. The top image depicts a photograph which is used as input to the algorithm that generates the painterly rendering shown below the photograph. Image credits: Aaron Hertzmann, ‘Painterly Rendering with Curved Brush Strokes of Multiple Sizes’, Siggraph ’98.
Here is a small (definitely incomplete) list of papers that attempt to generate painterly rendered outputs based on various inputs (scenes, photographs and virtual environments).
- Painterly Rendering with Curved Brush Strokes of Multiple Sizes
A. Hertzmann. SIGGRAPH 98 Conference Proceedings. pp. 453-460. Orlando, Florida. July, 1998.
- Peter Litwinowicz, Processing images and video for an impressionist effect, Proceedings of the 24th annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques, p.407-414, August 1997
- Steve Strassmann, Hairy brushes, ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics, v.20 n.4, p.225-232, Aug. 1986
- Barbara J. Meier, Painterly rendering for animation, Proceedings of the 23rd annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques, p.477-484, August 1996
- Cassidy J. Curtis , Sean E. Anderson , Joshua E. Seims , Kurt W. Fleischer , David H. Salesin, Computer-generated watercolor, Proceedings of the 24th annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques, p.421-430, August 1997
- Maria Shugrina , Margrit Betke , John Collomosse, Empathic painting: interactive stylization through observed emotional state, Proceedings of the 4th international symposium on Non-photorealistic animation and rendering, June 05-07, 2006, Annecy, France
- Paul Haeberli, Paint by numbers: abstract image representations, Proceedings of the 17th annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques, p.207-214, September 1990, Dallas, TX, USA
- James Hays , Irfan Essa, Image and video based painterly animation, Proceedings of the 3rd international symposium on Non-photorealistic animation and rendering, June 07-09, 2004, Annecy, France
- Aaron Hertzmann, Fast paint texture, Proceedings of the 2nd international symposium on Non-photorealistic animation and rendering, June 03-05, 2002, Annecy, France
- Doug DeCarlo , Anthony Santella, Stylization and abstraction of photographs, Proceedings of the 29th annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques, July 23-26, 2002, San Antonio, Texas
This list can go on forever, but you get the idea.
After that introduction of painterly rendering, I can now discuss the application of the rich medium of paintings in the field of visualization. In the field of visualization, attributes such as brush size, color, orientation, texture and so on can be used for visualizing all the multiple attributes that comprise a dataset.
Painterly visualization is an interesting approach to visualizing scientific data. Researchers not only end up producing aesthetically pleasing images but also generate visualizations that domain experts can better use to visualize and understand their data.
Prof. Chris Healey from NCSU has been one of the primary researchers using the painterly rendering paradigm to visualize weather and other multi-attribute datasets. Some other work has emerged from the labs of Prof. David Laidlaw at Brown, Prof. Victoria Interrante at UMN.
Here are some of their papers and some other related papers. The beautiful painterly visualizations generated not only make it enjoyable but the techniques and the applications sure make for extremely interesting reading.
- Tateosian, L. G., Healey, C. G., and Enns, J. T. “Engaging Viewers Through Nonphotorealistic Visualizations.” To appear in Fifth International Symposium on Non-Photorealistic Animation and Rendering (San Diego, California, 2007).
- Healey, C. G and Enns, J. T. “Perception and Painting: A Search for Effective, Engaging Visualizations.” IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications (Visualization Viewpoints) 22, 2, (2002), 10-15.
- P. Coleman Saunders, Victoria Interrante and Sean C. Garrick (2005) “Pointillist and Glyph-Based Visualization of Nanoparticles in Formation“,, Joint Eurographics/IEEE-VGTC Symposium on Visualization”, pp. 169-176.
- Healey, C. G., Enns, J. T., Tateosian, L. G., and Remple, M. “Perceptually-Based Brush Strokes for Nonphotorealistic Visualization.” ACM Transactions on Graphics 23, 1, (2004), 64-96.
- Michael Kirby, Daniel Keefe, and David H. Laidlaw. Painting and Visualization. In Visualization Handbook. Academic Press, June 2004.
- Kirby, R. M., Marmanis, H., and Laidlaw, D. H. Visualizing Multivalued Data from 2D Incompressible Flows Using Concepts from Painting. In Proceedings of the 10th IEEE Visualization 1999 Conference (VIS ’99) (October 25 – 28, 1999).
This too is by no means a complete list and any input regarding additions will be appreciated.
Ever since I’ve been involved with visualization, the two factions in the visualization community have fascinated and amused me. Scientific visualization deals with visualizing data that has inherent structure such as medical, hurricane, CFD data and so on. Information visualization deals with visualizing data that does not have an inherent structure such as financial stock market data, census data, genetic data and so on.
On attending many editions of the Annual IEEE Visualization and IEEE InfoVis (Information Visualization) conferences, I found that they are two entirely separate entities. The set of people organizing, attending and involved one conference is almost disjoint from the other set. There are some practitioners and researchers who keenly attend and participate in both versions but they are far and few in between.
The Visualization community isnt unaware of this strange but interesting divide.
They have had two panels, one in 2004 and another one in 2006 to discuss this divide and examine the pros and cons.
In 2003, the topic was “Information and scientific visualization: Separate but equal or happy together at last?” with leading experts from both fields pitching in.
- Theresa-Marie Rhyne, North Carolina State University
- Melanie Tory, Simon Fraser University
- Tamara Munzner, University of British Columbia
- Matt Ward, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
- Chris Johnson, University of Utah
- David H. Laidlaw, Brown University
At the IEEE Visualization 2006 conference held in Baltimore, MD there was another panel. This was organized by Dr. Helwig Hauser and was aptly called SciVis, InfoVis – Bridging the Community Divide?!
Top researchers from both factions presented their point of view. The panelists were
- Daniel Weiskopf, Simon Fraser University
- Kwan-Liu Ma, UC Davis
- Jarke J. van Wijk, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven
- Robert Kosara, UNC Charlotte and
- Helwig Hauser, VRVIS Research Center
I have taken courses in Visualization that have included both SciVis and InfoVis papers and believe that they both fall under the umbrella of “Visualization” anyway. Personally, I think that having two conferences improves the number of excellent papers that a researcher can read, but I still believe that we are all conducting research to provide insight to application domain users using innovative visualization techniques.
Comments and thoughts are welcome.