Selected Trends in Visualization Theory and Techniques: Notes on the 14th International Conference on Information Visualization 2010
University of Northern Colorado, US
South Bank University, UK
This article comprises notes about the 2010, 14th International Conference on Information Visualization in London, UK (Proceedings, 2010), which brought together researchers, artists, and professionals from more than 30 countries. The selected themes include: information and knowledge visualization theory – visual thinking; art, design, and aesthetics in visualization; interaction design for information visualization; virtual reality environments; information spaces – web visualization; visual analytics, data mining, geoanalytics, tags, and clouds; visualization in built and rural environments; cultural heritage knowledge visualization; visualization techniques and applications, geometric modeling and imaging; and visualization in education.
Artwork presented at the Symposium and Online Digital Art Gallery D-ART 2010 that accompanies the IV Conference illustrates the article.
Data visualization, information visualization, knowledge visualization, interaction design, virtual reality environments, information spaces, web visualization, visual analytics, digital art
Data, information, and knowledge visualization has its roots deep in history and presented itself in different disciplines in various modes since early days of civilization. Visualizations represent powerful cognitive tools that surround our everyday life, as it takes form from several domains; however, there are no defined boundaries between the different disciplines of visualization. According to Masud and al. (2010), the most important domains can be briefly identified as:
- Data visualization that has been defined as “information which has been abstracted in some schematic form” (Friendly & Denis, 2004), to provide visual insights in sets of data.
- Information visualization: “The use of computer-supported, interactive, visual representations of abstract data to amplify cognition.” (Carr et al, 1999).
- Knowledge visualization that uses visual representation to transfer knowledge, rather than data, between individuals.
- Scientific visualization that deals with physically based data defined in reference to space coordinates. Examples are geographic data and computer tomography data of a body.” (Voigt, 2002).
- “Information aesthetics forms a cross-disciplinary link between information visualization and visualization art.
- Infographics that refers to tools and techniques involved in graphical representation of data, mostly in journalism, art, and storytelling.
Computer aided visualization tools serve to exploit 2D, 3D, and interactive techniques, apply metaphors, and utilize innovative application domains. It seems clearly visible that the research and engineering-oriented investigations has been recently focused mostly on the spatially referenced, time-dependent data.
Figure 1. Sheila Pinkel (2010) Tongva Mural with 3 panels (© S. Pinkel)
Information and Knowledge Visualization Theory - Visual Thinking
This part of the article makes reference to the authors who examine knowledge visualization as a tool to augment cognitive processes. Interactive information graphics belong to journalism, information visualization, and information design. They are important in conveying information in online journalism, business management, technical writing, and in education. This kind of storytelling comprises interactive graphics, animated graphics, multimedia features, interactive narratives, and explanation graphics. Burmester et al. (2010) refer to a context in which visualization may act as a communication tool within the data-information-knowledge continuum, comment on the evaluation studies in information visualization, provide a typology, design principles, and user perception of interactive information graphics, explore whether the use of visualization is better than text in communication strategies, and analyze collaborative graphic sketchmarks – hand-drawn, simple, ad-hoc annotations or additions to diagrams.
The Data-Information-Knowledge (DIK) continuum is an approach that considers visualizations in the wider domain of communication, and a context in which visualizations act as communication tools. Masud et al. (2010, pp. 445-449), in a paper “From Data to Knowledge - Visualizations as Transformation Processes within the Data-Information-Knowledge Continuum,“ consider visualizations as transformation processes within the DIK continuum, and apply the transformation process model to the main disciplines of visualization. By doing this they think about visualization from a multidisciplinary perspective, exploring the role of visualizations in design practice, as artifacts that are used in facing problems of various degrees of complexity and nature. The contribution of the model is mainly addressed to orientate and nurture the reflective practice and to formalize the strategic more than the technical role of visualizations in the design discipline.
In a paper "A Guide to Scientific Evaluation in Information Visualization" Camilla Forsell (2010, pp.162-169) addresses some fundamental and practical issues that should be considered when pursuing evaluation studies in Information Visualization. The main focus is on quantitative experimental research but the general information applies to all kinds of studies. The purpose is to increase awareness of what constitutes a sound scientific approach to evaluation and to point out common pitfalls and mistakes during the phases of such study. These phases cover how to plan, design, conduct and analyze the outcome of an evaluation and finally how to report in a way that enhances readability, provides details relevant to the outcome and that allows replication. The paper could be used as a guide when conducting evaluation, and it could also be helpful when reviewing publications, since the same rules apply.
Figure 2. Mary Visser, Thought (© M. Visser, 2009)
In a paper entitled "How Users Perceive and Use Interactive Information Graphics: An Exploratory Study" Michael Burmester et al. (2010, pp. 361-368) explore a typology of interactive information graphics, basic design principles for building them, investigate their interactivity component, and study user perception and experience. Hybrid presentation of combined different modalities are: text, photos, audios, videos, charts, maps, graphs, and illustrations, with such features as multimodality, interactivity, and hypertextuality, which make the main difference between a print graphic and an online graphic. Each interactive information graphic focuses on one story, one topic. Online reader may choose their own navigation path through the information graphics, their own pace, and order. The authors’ results show that
- Usage durations were heterogeneous between users and between different types of interactive information graphics
- Users tended to watch introductory animations
- Initial orientation without interaction on the first content screen (after intro) was rather long with 23 seconds on average
- Story-based approaches seem to motivate users but might lead to less intensive reception of information
- Several reception and usage problems have been identified regarding information presentation and interaction.
Interactive information graphics tend to overwhelm users with too much information and disregard well-known principles and rules of the old media and web design.
To explore whether the use of visualization is better than text in the communication of business strategies, Sebastian Kernbach and Martin J. Eppler (2010, pp. 349-354) present in a paper "The Use of Visualization in the Context of Business Strategies: An Experimental Evaluation" three forms of the same presentation to a group of managers: a PowerPoint, a visualization in the form of a visual metaphor, and a roadmap that guides the viewer’s eye in a predetermined route. The authors measured awareness and attention to strategy information, comprehension of the strategy, agreement and support of the strategy, and retention of the strategic content. In addition, they measured the perception of the visual and the perception of the presenter and found a constant superiority of visualization compared to text. Visualization was significantly better than text in terms of attention, agreement, and retention. Subjects who were exposed to visualization in the form of a visual metaphor and a roadmap paid significantly more attention to the strategy, agreed more with the strategy and recalled the strategy better than did subjects who saw a text in the form of PowerPoint. In terms of in the understanding the strategy, no significant superiority was found for visualization compared to text. Subjects who were exposed to visualization in the form of a visual metaphor and a roadmap perceived the visual and the presenter significantly better than did those subjects who where exposed to text in the form of PowerPoint. In addition the perception of the visual accounted for 69% of the variation of the perception of the presenter.
Figure 3. Leslie Nobel Farber, Klementinium Scroll (© L. Nobel Farber)
Sabrina Bresciani and Martin J. Eppler (2010, pp. 355-360) explore in a paper "Choosing Knowledge Visualizations to Augment Cognition: The Managers' View" the positive impact of employing conceptual visual representation for individual reasoning, communicating and facilitating meetings in organizations. The study was aimed to advance the understanding of the use of conceptual visual representations to support managerial cognition and the relationship between the structure of the visual forms and the type of convergent or divergent knowledge task type. Questionnaire responses about the usefulness of 12 common business visualizations for typical knowledge tasks in organizations provided an overview of the comparative suitability of visualizations for generating ideas, sharing knowledge, evaluating options and planning. The authors presented for the survey twelve knowledge visualization formats: mind map, to-by-two matrix, timeline, flowchart, iceberg visual metaphor, argument map, mountain trail metaphor, roadmap, casual loops, concept map, slide ruler, and bridge metaphor. Then they positioned the resulting relative rankings of these types of knowledge visualization, made by the study participants, in relation to the four typical knowledge tasks: idea generation, knowledge sharing, evaluating options, and planning. This research provides a support for the selection of adequate visualizations for individual and collaborative cognitive tasks. At a theoretical field, the results indicate that the tasks requiring divergent thinking (generative cognition) are best supported by less structured visualizations, and the convergent tasks (evaluative cognition, such as assessment and planning) are best served by structured and highly codified templates.
Martin J. Eppler, Roland A. Pfister (2010, “Drawing Conclusions: Supporting Decision Making through Collaborative Graphic Annotations”) analyze sketchmarks – hand-drawn, simple, ad-hoc annotations, modifications, or additions to diagrams – not only as creativity catalysts but as analytic, collaborative thinking tools. The collaborative use of sketchmarks can provide numerous benefits to managerial discussions. Chart annotations can support management teams in their decision making based on quantitative charts by visually eliciting and capturing interpretation processes, clarifying basic assumptions, stimulating different perspectives, and extrapolating trends into the future. Sketch-based annotations combine the simplicity and immediacy of drawing with the clarity and richness of charting. The authors provide the rationale for this under-researched visual management and communication practice, illustrate it through examples, and – as their main contribution – provide a first overview classification of the different sketchmarks that management groups can use in their discussion of quantitative charts (for such contexts as strategy or project reviews).
Figure 4. Joohyun Pyune, fa_16 (© J. Pyune)
Art, Design, And Aesthetics in Visualization
Christine Nicholls’ paper “Conceptualisations of Self in Contemporary Interactive Artwork: A Case Study of Lynette Wallworth's Duality of Light” (2010, pp. 403-407), contextualized in terms of the broader history of the moving image, examines new media artist Lynette Wallworth’s installation Duality of Light with respect to recent advances in neuroscientific research that led to greater understanding of how the brain processes visual imagery. Of greatest relevance to Wallworth’s work is the discovery that the binding of the largely anatomically segregated attributes of color, motion, and faces occurs asynchronously and is subject to a temporal hierarchy. Moreover, such binding is post-conscious. Further to this, following Gansing, while simultaneously factoring in these recent neuroscientific advances, the idea of ‘interactivity’ is challenged. The author highlights the inadequacy of ‘interactive’ as an undifferentiated descriptor, often uniformly applied to diverse new media works. Works such as those created by Wallworth – whose work is informed intuitively by these recent neuroscientific findings – reveal the shortcomings of such homogenizing terminology.
Anna-Lena Carlsson (2010, pp. 450-454) addresses in a paper "The Aesthetic and the Poietic Elements of Information Design" two types of perspectives on the aesthetic that are of relevance for a discussion of contemporary information design. Poesis used in ancient Greece refers to the making of an object, in contrast to aesthesis that regards the sensuous perception. First, the author discusses ’aesthetic’ understood as aesthetic perception of beautiful form, and second, the ’aesthetic’ recognized as the poietic activity, i.e. the production of an object, in which the recipient also takes part. The author discusses these perspectives in relation to questions of form and content, and argues that aesthetic elements in some contemporary information designs cannot be understood as aesthetic perception of beautiful form. The aesthetic is still present, but as poietic, creative, elements. Finally, she discusses the poietic activity in the light of McLaughlin’s Heideggerian view, that the passing on of information is never neutral.
Figure 5. Da Young Ju, Visual Feeling 2 (© D. Y. Ju)
Denisa Kera (2010, pp. 297-300) examines online visual practices in data visualizations in digital art and humanities. The orientation towards data in arts, humanities, and pop culture in recent years brings a renewed interest in realism and iconoclasm. The various APIs (application programming interfaces) and web application hybrids, such as mashups, which are employed in these traditionally “qualitative” disciplines, offer tools for creative and often critical interpretations. Data are becoming means of a critical distance to the visual and media saturated world that bring whole new perspective on our everyday life and reality. These emerging critical and visual practices define a realism based on data rather than on human perception, reason, or some strong ontological theses. This data oriented realism does not simply represent reality but performs the modern processes of its construction with an almost iconoclastic fervor. It offers a distance from the power and seduction of the (digital) image and asks questions about their conditions of possibility, methods of gathering and the various possibilities of their representation. Visualization of various data in the form of popular user generated mashups, serious art visualizations, and new digital methods in humanities create a tension between the new forms of iconoclastic realism and the more playful dada collage techniques that are satirical realist and emancipatory rather than iconoclastic. The use of visualizations in art, humanities and online popular culture (cyberculture) is defined by this tension between data realism and dada “aggregations.”
Richard Brath, in a paper "Multiple Shape Attributes in Information Visualization: Guidance from Prior Art and Experiments," (2010, pp. 433-438), writes about multiple shape attributes that can be used within information visualizations. Prior art from many fields and experiments inform what the attributes of shape are and the potential ways that we may effectively utilize shapes to represent multiple data values within information visualization. The independent attributes of shape include closure, curvature, corner angle and type, edge and end type, notch, whiskers, holes, intersection, and local warp (Brath, 2009). They can be used separately or together to convey data attributes, as opposed to icons, numbers, common symbols, or compound glyphs. Scientific visualization represents physical phenomena and is therefore restrained to a spatial context, while information visualization often use shape to represent only a single data attribute.
Scientific visualization often uses curvature-based parametric shapes, glyphs with curvature and twist, and blobs. Information visualization utilizes shapes, such as Chernoff faces, physical objects, star coordinates, sticks, radar plots, ‘growth’ visualizations, and other organically inspired visualizations. The use of multiple shape attributes increases the expressive range and the information density of visualizations. The experiments show the potential to convey ten or more different data attributes within a glyph based on shape attributes.
Image inpainting, filling in the missing or damaged regions in an image, is an interpolation problem in mathematical terms. It is a fundamental problem in image processing and has many applications motivated by the recent tight frame based method on image restoration in either the image or the domain transformation. In a paper "A Wavelet Inpainting by a Tixotrop Model" Mohamed Lakhdar Hadji et al. (2010, pp. 559-563), who are working on the wavelet domain instead of the pixel domain, present wavelet inpainting based on tixotrop model for damaged wavelet coefficients, numerical procedure, algorithm, and simulations. The advantage of this model is to make a benefit from the smoothing model and correct the lying out of the contours by putting them more clearly. Experimental results using this model show that better inpainting quality can be achieved with much less computing time.
Figure 6. Matin John Callanan, Globe 09 06:30 (© M. J. Callanan, 2009)
Interaction Design for Informaiton Visualization
Selected articles concerning interaction tell about several new solutions and applications, including a Kinetic Inter-Acting visual language and analysis system, a new interaction way that uses mobile devices to input and output devices of computers, a system that delivers customized video content to mobile devices, description of the highlighting methods that act as an interaction control and a graphic recommendation mechanism in knowledge visualization and visual analytics, Liquid Diagrams - a suite of information visualization gadgets, a plug-in based architecture for interactive medical data visualization via web services, a real-time ray tracing evolved to combine the interactivity of rasterization, description of new ways of integrating, visualizing and interacting with geotechnical and geophysical data, a project about wearable, technological devices capable of implementing emotional skins, a research on the large-scale, interactive visualization architectures, a human-computer interaction system developed for recognition and visualization of hand movements, and a study on the Wiimote as an input device for the low cost Virtual Reality platform, to visualize information and navigate in Google Earth.
Interactions are central to our endeavors. Whether in a face-to-face session with a doctor or via one of Web 2.0 applications, the way interactions unfold has an impact on the final outcome of the session. Deray and Simoff (2010, pp. 73-78) address a visual language and analysis enabling visual reasoning about the quality of interactions. The authors present in their article "Kinetic Inter-acting: A System for Visual Analysis of Interaction Dynamics" a system of encoding the way interactions unfold, and the foundations of KIA (Kinetic Inter-Acting) visual language and the visual analysis system with this language. KIA language is based on the Source-Target model of linking conceptual space in metaphor analysis in cognitive linguistics (Lakoff &Johnson, 1980). KIA (the language and the analysis system) enables both humans and machines to utilize information about how interactions unfold in order to improve interactions and the processes that depend on them. The language is evaluated through comparison with expert judgments when applied to cases in health care.
Mariko Sasakura et al. (“Interaction with Computers Using Mobile Devices," 2010, pp. 122-127) propose a new interaction way that uses mobile devices to input and output devices of computers. The idea is simple but powerful, because 1) mobile devices are popular, 2) people can use them easily, 3) people carry them at all times, 4) two displays one of which is a big display for a computer and another is a small display of a mobile device may make new interaction and visualization and 5) a user can store parts of public data in physically independent device, that is his/her mobile device. The authors expect that their idea may make psychological barrier lower than now, so that users can access and modify all data around the world more easily. They show an example application based the idea they propose and discuss the proposed system as a new application of the focus + content method.
Lior Shefer and Francis Marchese present in a paper "A System for Real-Time Transcoding and Delivery of Video to Smartphones" (2010, pp. 494-499) a report of a system that delivers customized video content to mobile devices. Constructed from open source components, it can stream transcoded video to mobile devices in real-time. In addition, it allows publishers to add content into their video streams on the fly. As a demonstration of this system's capabilities, an application was designed to deliver transcoded Adobe Flash content to Apple iPhones in real-time with the insertion of randomly selected commercial content.
Highlighting is the basic viewing control mechanism in computer graphics and visualization to guide users’ attention in reading diagrams, images, graphs and digital texts. Because of the rapid growth of theory and practice in information visualization, highlighting has extended its role, as it acts as not only a viewing control, but also an interaction control and a graphic recommendation mechanism in knowledge visualization and visual analytics. In their work entitled "Highlighting in Information Visualization: A Survey," Jie Liang and Mao Lin Huang (2010, pp. 79-85) give a formal summarization and classification of the existing highlighting methods and techniques that can be applied in information visualization, visual analytics and knowledge visualization. They propose a new three-layer model of highlighting, and discuss the responsibilities of each layer in the different stage of the visual information processing.
Figure 7. Victor Acevedo, Day Dream (© V. Acevedo)
Information visualization techniques have sometimes been slow to diffuse into more widespread public use. Recent advances in cloud computing have opened up opportunities to bring information visualization to the masses in ways previously not possible. Keith Andrews and Martin Lessacher (2010, iv, pp. 104-109) present a paper titled "Liquid Diagrams: Information Visualisation Gadgets." Liquid diagrams, a suite of information visualization gadgets written in Flex, visualize live data contained in Google Docs spreadsheets through the Google Visualization API. Users can interactively configure the visualization and any changes in the online spreadsheet data are reflected immediately in the display. In contrast to other solutions, liquid diagrams gadgets specifically support the printing and the export of both vector (SVG) and raster (PNG) graphics versions of the visualizations, allowing users to construct and export high-quality diagrams for inclusion into other works. The suite of visualization gadgets currently available includes: area charts, bar charts, heat maps (choropleths), line charts, pie charts, treemaps, and parallel coordinates plots. Star plots and voronoi treemaps are coming soon.
Web services provide remote access to distributed resources and processes through uniform interfaces. However, the latency associated with data transmission has meant that they are generally applied to non-interactive data processing. Interactive applications, in which many more user interactions and data transmissions are involved, are difficult to adapt to web service based frameworks, particularly if the interactive investigation involves large datasets. In medical imaging and visualization, user interactions are generally a prerequisite for the detailed study and manipulation of data. As a result of major scientific initiatives, such as the Virtual Physiological Human where large data repositories are being set up at a variety of sites, it is becoming increasingly common for the data being investigated to be stored on a remote server. Consequently, it is now highly desirable to develop a means by which web service based interactive visualization can be applied to the distributed medical data access and clinical collaboration. The paper entitled "Using Web Services as Functional-Level Plug Ins for Interactive 3D Medical Visualisation" by Wang et al. (2010, pp. 617-622) presents a functional-level plug-in based architecture for interactive data visualization via web services, which is being implemented within the EC-funded ContraCancrum project.
Figure 8. Raymond St Arnaud, The Figuratives_Digit 1398 (© R. St Arnaud)
Molecular visualization is one of the cornerstones in structural bioinformatics and related fields. Today, rasterization is typically used for the interactive display of molecular scenes, while ray tracing aims at generating high-quality images, taking typically minutes to hours to generate and requiring the usage of an external off-line program. Recently, real-time ray tracing evolved to combine the interactivity of rasterization-based approaches with the superb image quality of ray tracing techniques. Lukas Marsalek et al. (2010, pp. 239-245, "Real-Time Ray Tracing of Complex Molecular Scenes") demonstrate how real-time ray tracing integrated into a molecular modeling and visualization tool allows for better understanding of the structural arrangement of bio-molecules and natural creation of publication-quality images in real-time. Their technique naturally integrates the full-featured molecular modeling into a visualization tool BALLView, seamlessly extending a standard workflow with interactive high-quality rendering.
Vítor Gonçalves et al. (2010, pp. 181-185) present "Exploring New Ways of Integration, Visualization and Interaction with Geotechnical and Geophysical Data," the ways that may be more rich and interactive than those offered by most current Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The authors present the case studies about some visualization techniques enabling simultaneous visualization of the several data types. They also developed methods to guide experts while defining layers and other relevant geological structures. The work is aimed at assessing the validity and adequacy of the proposed techniques to the specific geotechnical and geophysical data under consideration.
Salvatore Iaconesi (2010, pp. 200-206, "Wearing Emotions: Physical Representation and Visualization of Human Emotions Using Wearable Technologies”) presents the iterative design process used in generating several prototypes and proofs of concept for wearable, technological devices, which are capable of implementing emotional skins. Reactive layers have the potential to act as visualization surfaces to represent individuals' or groups' emotional configurations depending on the specific strategies that can be applied to a wide range of human activities. These emotion-aroused, interactive skins can be used in generating cognitive processes relevant for social communication, knowledge dissemination, and education. The research project explores the potential use of these devices in emotion classification and methodologies for representing and enacting dynamics that are significant from cognitive, ethnographic and psychological perspectives.
Sarah Kenderdine, "Immersive Visualization Architectures and Situated Embodiments of Culture and Heritage," (2010, pp. 408-414) describes a series of transdisciplinary research projects in five large-scale, interactive visualization architectures. These immersive architectures and their associated visual, sonic and algorithmic techniques offer compelling means for mapping and remediating the tangible, intangible and abstract aspects of culture and heritage landscapes. This paper brings these unique systems and the installations developed for them together for the first time. The task here is to highlight the strategies for embodied, kinaesthetic, multisensory and collaborative engagement as powerful ways to reformulate narrative made possible through these stereographic, panoramic, situated interfaces.
Although SignWriting provides an intuitive notation system based on pictorial symbols to enable any sign based language in the world to be transcribed into a written form, it is a time consuming process for keyboard-based input. To address the challenge of direct sign writing, Gan Lu et al. (2010, pp. 467-472) present a human-computer interaction system developed for recognition and visualization of hand movements. The system is able to display the corresponding SignWriting symbols for various hand movements performed by two hands based on motion characteristics such as movement planes, movement directions, straight/curve movement paths, clockwise/anti-clockwise movements, and single/repeated movements.
The input device of the Wii has already been used in different applications. Sousa Santos et al. ("Wiimote as an Input Device in Google Earth Visualization and Navigation: A User Study Comparing Two Alternatives," 2010, pp. 473-478) compare the usability of the Wiimote as an input device for the low cost Virtual Reality platform, to visualize information and navigate in Google Earth using two different configurations. This study had the collaboration of 15 participants, who performed a set of tasks using the Wiimote as an input device while the image was projected on a common projection screen, as well as a mouse on a desktop. Results show that most users clearly preferred one of the Wiimote configurations over the other, and over the mouse; moreover, they had better performances using the preferred configuration, and found it easier to use.
Figure 9. Monika Wulfers, Installation 1769 (© M. Wulfers)
Virtual Reality Environments
An evolutionary approach towards post creation markup and commentary attachments to 3D Virtual Reality models of Built Heritage, from 1995 to date, has been explored by John Counsell (2010, pp. 579-584) in a paper "Models, Mark-Up, Commentary and Attention." A particular focus of the several projects described over this period was to enable and support web-based collaborative modeling of the built and natural environment, covering facsimiles of its current form, various interpretations of historic settings, and interpretations of the future in the form of versions of planning proposals. Throughout these projects a need was defined for non-proprietary and software-independent forms of ‘mark-up’ for: commenting on the evolving state of and versions of modeling; linking to many different media, documentary sources and base data that served to evidence these interpretations; and for achieving consensus in opposing or supporting planned proposals. The necessary 3D capable GIS, which support a ‘Google Docs’ approach to web based 3D modeling collaboration and commentary, are only beginning to emerge.
A paper "Real-Time Immersive Table Tennis Game for Two Players with Motion Tracking" by Yingzhu Li et al. (2010, pp. 500-505) presents a novel real-time virtual reality game developed to enable two participants to play table tennis immersively with each other’s avatar in a shared virtual environment. It uses a wireless hybrid inertial and ultrasonic tracking system to provide the positions and orientations of both the head (view point) and hand (racket) of each player, as well as two large rear-projection stereoscopic screens to provide a view-dependent 3D display of the game environment. Additionally, a physics-based ball animation model is designed for the game, which includes fast detection of the ball colliding with table, net, and quick moving rackets. The system offers some unique features and it forms a good platform for development of other immersive games for multiple players.
Dynamic recompilation tries to produce more efficient code by exploiting runtime information. Virtual machines like the Jikes RVM use recompilation heuristics to decide how to recompile the program, i.e. what parts are recompiled at what level of optimization. Zimmer and Diehl (2010, pp. 509-514) present in "Visual Amortization Analysis of Recompilation Strategies” their post-mortem amortization analysis based on improved call stack sampling. Their tool presents the results of the analysis as an interactive visualizations to help the virtual machine implementers improve their recompilation strategies, as well as the programmers assess whether these recompilation strategies pay off, not only for their application as a whole, but also for individual methods.
Figure 10. Victor Atman, Brain Storm (© V. Atman)
The existing techniques used for post stroke rehabilitation have sought to offer stroke survivors with upper extremity motor deficits a system for the practice and re-learning of motor tasks. Some studies suggest that the use of Virtual Reality technologies as an assistive technology in combination with conventional therapies can achieve improved results in post stroke rehabilitation. Despite the wealth of ongoing research attempting to build a virtual reality based system for upper extremity rehabilitation, there still exists a need for a training platform that would provide whole arm rehabilitation. In order to be practical this system should ideally be low cost and involve minimal therapist involvement. The paper "Investigating the Trend of Virtual Reality-Based Stroke Rehabilitation Systems" by Prashum et al. (2010, pp. 641-647) describes some of the applications of virtual reality that have undergone clinical trials with patients suffering from upper extremity functional motor deficits. A brief description is presented, of VR technologies that are in place, providing benefits to the stroke patients with upper extremity motor and functional deficits, alongside a proof of concept of a whole arm rehabilitation platform.
Individuals who have upper limb movement problems include people with cerebral palsy (CP) and stroke victims. Both these conditions lead to difficulties in daily activities such as reaching, grasping etc. Virtual reality (VR), which could provide a repetitive multimodal task-oriented rehabilitation environment for patients to undertake self-training in safety, is considered to be a suitable tool for medical health rehabilitation. Using electromyography (EMG) biofeedback in rehabilitation could provide patients with opportunities to improve the ability by assessing their muscle activity response and learning self-control of movement during specific training tasks. Sha Ma et al. (2010, pp. 479-484) present in a paper "EMG Biofeedback Based VR System for Hand Rotation and Grasping Rehabilitation" a study on developing EMG as an important interactive tool in a VR based system for hand rotation and grasping motion rehabilitation. The input interface includes an EMG system and a real-time magnetic motion tracking system, and the output interface is a PC monitor. The developed EMG biofeedback based VR system enables the user to interact with virtual objects in real-time with multiform feedback. Ten healthy subjects participated in the preliminary task evaluation test, and the results suggest that the specified skills have improved during training. The beneficial effects of the developed system indicate the potential values for further clinical application.
Accessing personal and online music libraries with thousands of songs has become an everyday activity. Instead of textual lists, the libraries can also be accessed using graphical visualizations such as adaptive avatars. To develop the idea further, Jukka Holm et al. (2010, pp. 186-193, "Associating Avatars with Musical Genres”) designed 17 stereotypical avatars representing different musical genres. He arranged an online questionnaire with 71 participants to study how well the avatars were recognized. This paper discusses the design of the avatars, explains which musical genres were selected for the study and why, and presents the results of the questionnaire.
Figure 11. Philip Sanders, Disembarking (© P. Sanders)
Information Spaces - Web Visualization
Information spaces such the WWW are the most challenging types of space that many people navigate during everyday life. Unlike the real world, there are no effective maps of information spaces, so people are forced to rely on search engines that are only suited to some types of retrieval task. A paper "INSPIRE: A New Method of Mapping Information Spaces" (Ruddle, 2010, pp. 273-279) describes a new method for creating maps of information spaces. The INSPIRE engine is a tree drawing algorithm that uses a city metaphor, comprised of streets and buildings, and generates maps automatically from webcrawl data. Technical evaluation used data from 112 universities, which had up to 485,775 pages on their websites. INSPIRE maps are much more compact, although they take longer to compute than radial layouts (e.g., the Bubble Tree). INSPIRE maps also have desirable aesthetic properties of being orthogonal, preserving symmetry between identical subtrees, and being planar.
Nowadays professional journalists create and edit broadcasting materials inside newsrooms with an intense and multivariate flux of information. Within these settings, the journalists have difficulties keeping up with the evolving geopolitical picture of events developing in the world and how such picture relates to the topics of their interest. In a paper "AmbientNEWS: Augmenting Information Discovery in Complex Settings through Aesthetic Design" (2010, pp. 439-444) Valkanova et al. present an ambient display that visualizes dynamic news content and informs professional journalists on the global picture of events. The authors argue that the conceptualization and the design of its information aesthetics criteria can be grounded in user requirements, and engaged to augment the awareness of professionals in an environment that is highly crowded with information. They also discuss the evaluation process of ambient information visualization with a focus on aesthetic design aspects.
Dario Rodighiero contributes with the "Guidelines to Visualize Vessels in a Geographic Information System," (2010, pp. 455-459). The data representation is of great importance in information systems. In fact the visualization of information is the last point of contact between the user and the information system, as it is the space where communication takes place. In real-time monitoring systems, this passage covers a great importance, especially for reasons related to the time and the transparency of relevant information. Geographic information is increasing in popularity. These factors are fundamental to vessel monitoring systems. This is the beginning where we start to define a guidelines manual, to help specialists of information visualization in the vessel-monitoring field, and in the GIS field in general.
Figure 12. Akio Yamanaka, AppleMouse (© A. Yamanaka)
Raposo et al. (2010, pp. 213-218) “Visualization of News Access Activity in the SAPO News Website” describe the research developed towards the conceptualization and prototyping of an Information Visualization system capable of providing a quick and accurate view of the set of data collected by the SAPO Broker web service regarding access activity in the SAPO, the largest Portuguese Web Portal. SAPO Broker is a real-time monitoring application that collects data generated by every type of activity within the SAPO. The research aimed at: i) designing a visual metaphor capable of integrating news-related collected data for a specific target audience, technology setup, and context of use; ii) designing intuitive, user friendly, and relevant interaction tools able to assist editorial tasks and data analysis. The need for transdisciplinary teamwork and diverse scientific knowledge correlation is reinforced, as should be when the core issue is Information Visualization. In another study (Veloso et al., 2010, pp. 225-230) the authors focus on the task of conveying meaning to user interaction data collected by the SAPO Broker web service. SAPO Broker collects a large set of data with the main purpose of assisting visualization and analysis of tasks linked to geo-referenced web searches performed on the portal.
The goal of the visualization is to help the users better and faster understand the text on a web page and/or find related content on the Internet. This is possible with the use of text mining, natural language processing, and semantic web technologies. A paper "Visualization of Web Page Content Using Semantic Technologies," by Lorand Dali and Dunja Mladenic (2010, pp. 280-284) presents a system for visualizing the information contained in the text of a web page that integrates state-of-the-art technology of text mining, natural language processing, and semantic web providing an extension of Internet browser. The authors’ system makes these technologies instantly accessible to a wide variety of users reading a wide variety of web pages. This high coverage of both users and content can be achieved because the system is implemented as an extension to Firefox, one of the most popular browsers, and because the visualizations are computed on the fly for any page the user happens to be reading at a given moment.
Conventionally, a grid generator requires either an explicit or implicit description about the boundary vertices, boundary lines and boundary faces to define the geometry. Lin Hsin Hsin (2010, pp. 460-463) has developed in 2006, the Interactive Web based Grid Geometry Construction process  to create and generate 2D ubiquitous platform independent, highly scalable, paintbrush, pixel and vector free geometry art. In 2008, she has established a new paradigm – a fundamental medium for visualization, development, creation and delivery tool for generating grid geometry art and beyond. With exceptions, the result is instantly Web-enabled. In a paper "A New Paradigm for Visualization and Generating Grid Geometry Art and Beyond" the author demonstrates the results of the deployment of this image editor free tool by presenting an array of instant conceptualizations and artistic realizations of an “image” as an arrangement of an uniform m x n grid of colored cells formed within a set of finite orthogonal grids. Beyond that, this paper presents a wide-ranging display of non-orthogonal and soft-edged image-free images.
Figure 13. Jing Zhou, Randomness (© J. Zhou)
Visual Analytics, Data Mining, Geoanalytics, Tags, Clouds, and Widgets
In the analysis of spatially-referenced, time-dependent data, gaining an understanding of the spatio-temporal distributions and the relationships among the attributes in the data can be quite difficult. Thakur and Hanson (2010, pp.336-343) present a visualization technique that addresses some of the challenges involved in visually exploring and analyzing the distributions of geo-spatial time-varying data. They have developed a pictorial representation that is based on the standard space-time cube metaphor and provides in a single display the overview and details of a large number of time-varying quantities. The authors’ approach involves three-dimensional graphical widgets that intuitively represent profiles of the time-varying quantities and can be plotted on a geographic map to expose interesting spatio-temporal distributions of the data. Combining this visualization technique with standard data exploration features can assist in the exploration of salient patterns in a data set. The visualization approach described here supports expeditious exploration of multiple data sets; this in turn assists the process of building initial hypotheses about the attributes in a data set and enhances the user's ability to pose and explore interesting questions about the data.
Photo-sharing websites such as Flickr and Panoramio contain millions of geotagged images contributed by people from all over the world. Characteristics of these data pose new challenges in the domain of spatio-temporal analysis. Kisilevich et al. (2010, pp. 289-296) define several different tasks related to analysis of attractive places, points of interest, and comparison of behavioral patterns of different user communities on geotagged photo data. The authors perform analysis and comparison of temporal events, rankings of sightseeing places in a city, and study mobility of people using geotagged photos. They take a systematic approach to accomplish these tasks by applying scalable computational techniques, using statistical and data mining algorithms, combined with interactive geo-visualization. They also provide exploratory visual analysis environment, which allows the analyst to detect spatial and temporal patterns and extract additional knowledge from large geotagged photo collections, as shown when applied to several regions in the world.
Figure 14. Jonathan Craig Hounshell, Blue Line, Boston (© J. C. Hounshell)
Ahmed Aburodes and Assaid Alkilany (2010, pp. 301-309) present a method to discover the periodicity in web log sequence data, which handle missing sequences that may occur during the aggregation process, such as sequences that swing between two periods. On the other hand, a sequence may start near the end time of a period, while the rest of those sequences appear in next period. These kinds of issues will leave its effect on periodicity discovery. The authors incorporated OLAP data cube techniques in the aggregation process in order to handle large generated sequences, and visualized the discovered periodic patterns in order to study its impact on periodicity discovery.
Searching and exploring on digital maps are normally performed through simple text boxes and zoom-and-pan interfaces. Nguyen and Schumann (2010, pp. 322-328) present a novel technique, namely Taggram, which combines texts onto maps to support geo-tagged data exploration. It is designed to show geo-tagged data in form of size-varied and colorized tags, benefiting by the concepts of Tag Clouds, and to support exploring those data interactively through a fisheye menu adaptation. The technique was demonstrated for geo-tagged data exploration; however, as other thematic geo-data can be partially represented in abstract form of texts, Taggram can be a method for the presentation and exploration of such geo-data in other application scenarios.
Efficient visualization of graphs containing many nodes and edges is quite challenging task, since representations generally suffer from visual clutter induced by the large amount of edge crossings and node-edge overlaps. That problem becomes even more important when nodes positions are fixed, such as in geography, where nodes positions are set according to geographical coordinates. Edge bundling techniques can help to solve this issue by visually merging edges along common routes; it can also help to reveal high-level edge patterns in the network and therefore to understand its overall organization. Lambert et al. (2010, pp. 329-335) present a way to reduce the clutter in a 3D representation by routing edges into bundles, as well as a GPU-based rendering method to emphasize bundle densities while preserving edge color. To visualize geographical networks in the context of the globe, they also provide a new technique allowing bundling edges around the globe and not across it.
Figure 15. James Faure Walker, Take Me There (© J. F. Walker, 2009)
Visualization in Built and Rural Environments
Communication during the design process has a substantial role because it exchanges messages and conveys ideas to people with different skills and interests. Also, the development of high quality 3D modeling, photo rendering, and VR software have shifted the way we communicate architecture, from a conventional to a digital format, and thus provided us with another way for the communication of information, the visualization of processes, and the creative expression of ideas. Bassanino et al. (2010, pp. 585-589) in a paper "The Impact of Immersive Virtual Reality on Visualisation for a Design Review in Construction" investigate the impact that Immersive Virtual Reality technology can have on visualization of a design review scenario in construction, which was developed during the course of the European CoSpaces project and the potential of such technologies to alter the way enterprises work.
Recent research indicates that Virtual Reality (VR) has been utilized to varied degrees as a communication tool to convey design intent and construction methodologies in the built environment sector. Currently, the effectiveness of VR has been demonstrated from conception to the final stages of projects in many fields, yet its potential within the Built Environment has still to be realized, despite a variety of successful demonstrations. There is concern that the current utilization of VR compromises its full potential, unsurprisingly, as environmental representations focus predominantly on the visual modality, regardless of the multi sensory nature of the spatial experience. In addition, there is a distinct paucity of research exploring the complex interaction of environmental design and the user, such as the role of attention or conceptual interpretation. Angie Johnson et al. (2010, pp. 604-609) identify the issues concerning the utilization of VR models to aid communication for the Built Environment with specific reference to human perception issues.
Figure 16. Kathy Brew, Roberto Guerra, Still (© K. Brew, R. Guerra, 2008)
Buildings account for significant carbon dioxide emissions, both in construction and operation. Governments around the world are setting targets and legislating to reduce the carbon emissions related to the built environment. Challenges presented by increasingly rigorous standards for construction projects will mean a paradigm shift in how new buildings are designed and managed. This will lead to the need for computational modeling and visualization of buildings and their energy performance throughout the life-cycle of the building. The paper by Robina Hetherington et al. (2010, pp. 590-596) entitled "Zero and Low Carbon Buildings: A Driver for Change in Working Practices and the Use of Computer Modelling and Visualization" outlines how the UK government is planning to reduce carbon emissions for new buildings. It discusses the challenges faced by the architectural, construction, and building management professions in adjusting to the proposed requirements for low or zero carbon buildings. It then outlines how software tools, including the use of visualization tools, could develop to support the designer, contractor, and user.
For communication of design plans, city councils and other local governments require that 3D models are developed quickly, at minimum expense, and they can be made available online. Users, generally citizens, increasingly expect that the models are a photorealistic and truthful representation of the future situation. Despite the advancements in graphics in recent years, the budget, the platform available, and the requirements of use are restraining factors for the visual quality of a 3D model. The question of the validity of models for assessment of urban development plans is therefore increasingly relevant. In an empirical field study, Houtkamp and Junger, "Affective Qualities of an Urban Environment on a Desktop Computer" (2010, pp. 597-603) compared the affective qualities of a 3D model designed for online assessment and communication of urban development, with those of the urban environment in reality. The model was considered more pleasant, more modern, and more uniform than the area in reality. This can be explained by specific characteristics of this type of model, such as the lively colors and the clean surfaces.
With the improved uptake of Building Information Modelling (BIM) new issues are emerging. Harty and Laing (2010, pp. 610-613), in an article "The Management of Sharing, Integrating, Tracking, and Maintaining Data-Sets, is a New and Rather Complex Task," indicate the importance of the way the data is presented to the various stakeholders, as the tailor-made views, to reflect their demands and requirements. In this fragmented sector new methods of feedback loops need to be developed, which is strong in the concept of phased handovers; other stakeholders outside the procurement process need to be included to progress and manage the practice. Within this scenario is the role of the facility manager, who currently operates separately to the procurement stakeholders. Bridges need to be built to bring them closer together, especially in light of the life cycle cost and sustainability, if the buildings operations and maintenance issues are to be addressed in the design phase. The model's ability to host work phases opens up a method to co-inhabit the model to accommodate both sets of stakeholders. This filtering of the model has tremendously positive aspects, but conversely larger issues of ownership and custodianship have not to date been satisfactorily resolved. There is a major role for proper management here, which has not been appropriately identified. Initially there was a clarion call to architects to adopt this role and a few years ago this seemed to return the lead role to this noble profession. But patently they are neither prepared nor keen to take on this role. Constructing architects however do seem to want redefine this discipline, which can raise their profile and possibly lead to professional recognition and prestige.
Figure 17. Gloria DeFilipps Brush, 8330 (notable minutiae), (© G.DeFilipps)
Cultural Heritage Knowledge Visualization
The transition from ephemeral, ceremonial art to more permanent acrylic-on-board paintings has made Australian Aboriginal art more accessible to the public than ever before. However, early examples contained secret/sacred motifs and stories - knowledge recorded in the paintings that was normally only made available to initiates. In turn, this prompted contemporary Australian Aboriginal artists to hide, camouflage or remove the sensitive material from their work. It is only recently, through inter-gender and inter-cultural collaborations between contemporary Indigenous Australian artists and non-indigenous ethnographers and anthropologists, that the full ramifications of this transition are becoming apparent. In a paper "Ancestral Forces in Contemporary Indigenous Australian Women's Art: 3 Case Studies of Multi-dimensional Cultural Heritage Knowledge," (2010, pp.391-396), Jenefer Marquis and Theodor Wyeld examine how the traditional expression of Kuruwarri, or Ancestral power, has been transformed through contemporary Australian Aboriginal women’s art.
Australian Aboriginal people have suffered ignominy through British policies and practices since the legal conquest of their land in 1788. They have been historically and socially misrepresented on the premise of their race alone. Recent attempts at reconciliation have come some way towards a shared culture. However, the national curriculum has not been effective in promoting reconciliation as an important part of a student’s education. MacGill et al. (2010, pp. 397-402) developed a game as a pedagogical tool for advancing notions of reconciliation. The pedagogical goal of the game is for students to experience notions of trust, empathy and collaboration – core to notions of reconciliation. Initial evaluation of the game suggests these goals are being met. The game provides a vehicle for notions of reconciliation to be broached in way school-age children can engage with the concepts at a familiar level (in a game). It promotes reflection on their role in the reconciliation process.
Figure 18. Corinne Whitaker, What the Ancients Saw (© C. Whitaker, 2009)
In her paper "Embodying Affect: The Stolen Generations, the History Wars and PolesApart by Indigenous New Media Artist r e a," Christine Nicholls (2010, pp. 415-421) describes a new media artwork PolesApart by an Australian Aboriginal artist r e a, of the Gamilaraay people in northern New South Wales. r e a explores issues relating to the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal children. Based on the personal experiences of her grandmother and great aunt as ‘stolen children’, r e a amplifies the work’s familial dimension by enacting the role of the protagonist fleeing from forced servitude. This paper looks at PolesApart in the broader context of the interrelated phenomena of the stolen generations and the so-called ‘history wars’. It is posited that the power, immediacy, and affective dimensions of (moving) visual imagery have been instrumental in shifting Australians’ knowledge about the stolen generations from the margins into the mainstream. The capacity of the moving image to ‘embody affect’ , it is argued, has enabled many more Australians than previously to appreciate the historical implications and continuing ramifications of this prolonged episode in Australian history. This has in turn led to the development of a more sympathetic public understanding of the phenomenon of the stolen generations as ‘lived experience’. In turn this broader social knowledge and its integration into our shared cultural heritage have contributed to Australians’ general receptiveness to the official Apology issued to members of the stolen generations by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Federal Parliament (13th February 2008). It is also the case that the popular reception of mainstream stolen generation-themed movies has influenced Australians’ openness to the themes and issues explored in contemporary non-mainstream new media work such as r e a's PolesApart. In the latter work, through the use of the vehicle of her own body, r e a demonstrates that the personal is inescapably political, and vice versa.
Interactive web-based resources are significant to the mediation of culture in that they act as an interface between communities and information structures. The focus of a paper by Hart Cohen et al., "Database Narratives: Conceptualising Digital Heritage Databases in Remote Aboriginal Communities" (2010, pp. 422-427) is on the use of digital media arts and user-centered technologies to develop a digital heritage resource to revitalize a community’s cultural capital. The paper addresses the creation and use of an interactive database that forms the portal to a digital repository of archival media. The database supports and extends an Australian classic memoir, Journey to Horseshoe Bend by TGH Strehlow. Journey to Horseshoe Bend is a vivid ethno-historiographic account of the Aboriginal (Arrernte/Arrarnta) settler and Lutheran communities of Central Australia in the 1920’s. The Journey to Horseshoe Bend database draws on a broad range of visual representations (including images, maps, concept diagrams, text and other media resources), and through hyperlinks connects these media to specific annotated points in an electronic version of the book. The paper focuses on the book’s use as a digital heritage resource and explores the link between information architectures and knowledge practices in particular contexts to address the following question: How can a digital heritage resource be conceived as a sustainable emerging “thing-in-the-making” to reflect community, cultural, and knowledge interests? Background resources: http://bugs.commarts.uws.edu.au/cocoon/jhsb/item/69994/ and project website: http://www.commarts.uws.edu.au/jthb/
Figure 19. Hans Dehlinger, U_A_f3-1.2 (© H. Dehlinger)
Visualization Techniques, Applications, Geometric Modeling and Imaging
The use of procedural modeling has risen dramatically over the last decade. This has been partly due to the increase in computing power, affording developers the opportunity to use methods that were previously infeasible. A further reason for this growth is due to the improvement of the representation of human knowledge. The development of procedural modeling has, thus far, been somewhat disjointed and ad hoc, as different areas of graphics, gaming and modeling have been utilizing the technique with little reference outside of their own specialization. The paper "Challenges and Perspectives of Procedural Modelling and Effects," by David Fletcher et al. (2010, pp. 543-550) provides an overview of procedural modeling covering key techniques and applications, and then suggests a framework for the development of a procedural modeling system that can form areas of land of both populated areas and the bodies of water.
Vision is central in human perception. Images are everywhere. Real life applications produce and use huge amounts of different types images. Retrieving an image having some characteristics in a big database is a crucial task. Therefore we need mechanisms for indexing and retrieving images. Samy Ait-Aoudia et al. (2010, pp. 570-575) describe CBIR (Content Based Image Retrieval) systems that perform these tasks by indexing images using the physical characteristics automatically extracted and searching by an image query. They present a CBIR system named YACBIR (Yet Another CBIR) that combines several properties (color, texture and points of interest) extracted automatically to index and retrieve images.
Bipartite graphs are often used to illustrate relationships between two sets of data, such as web pages and visitors. At the same time, information is often organized hierarchically, for example, web pages are divided into directories by their contents. The hierarchical structures are useful for analyzing information. Graphs with both a bipartite structure and a hierarchical structure are called “clustered bipartite graphs.” In a paper entitled “Drawing Clustered Bipartite Graphs in Multi-circular Style” Takao Ito, Kazuo Misue, and Jiro Tanaka (2010, pp. 23-28) describe a new clustered bipartite graphs visualization technique that was developed for representing both bipartite and hierarchical structures simultaneously. In this technique, nodes in one set of the bipartite graph, which are leaves of a tree, are arranged in hierarchical multi-circular style. Then, nodes in the other set of the bipartite graph are arranged by the force-directed method. The technique enables step-by-step exploration for large-scale bipartite graphs.
Figure 20. Gabriele Peters, Seite (© G. Peters)
Networks are widely used in modeling relational data often comprised of thousands of nodes and edges. This kind of data alone implies a challenge for its visualization, because of a hard to avoid clutter of network elements, if using traditional node-link diagrams. Moreover, real-life network data sets usually represent objects with a large number of additional attributes that need to be visualized, such as in software engineering, social network analysis, or biochemistry. In a paper entitled “The Network Lens: Interactive Exploration of Multivariate Networks Using Visual Filtering” Jusufi et al. (2010, pp. 35-42), present an interactive tool to visualize several attributes. The Network Lens is a novel approach to visualize such attributes in context of the underlying network. Implementation of the Network Lens is an interactive tool that extends the idea of so-called magic lenses in such a way that users can interactively build and combine various lenses by specifying different attributes and selecting suitable visual representations.
Volume rendering has been widely used in different fields where several rendering algorithms have been developed, such as shear-warp, ray casting, or texture splatting. But independently of the rendering method, transfer functions are usually used for mapping values and other properties of the volume into colors. As an improvement of transfer functions, style transfer functions are being used, where sphere maps extracted from artwork are used instead of plain colors. Imanol Herrera et al. (2010, pp. 43-47) present in a paper "Preserving Coherent Illumination in Style Transfer Functions for Volume Rendering" an intuitive and interactive way to create sphere maps for the style transfer functions, with the use of texture and color for the styles, which enables contour highlighting and illustrative central transparency. The authors propose an interactive designer that would allow the user to create styles in an easy way, and shade them with just a color or a texture. In addition, it guarantees a coherent illumination, making it possible to easily use style transfer functions to achieve realistic rendering.
Figure 21. Dena Elisabeth Eber, The Mikvah Bath, Leaving Childhood_3 (© D. E. Eber)
In a paper entitled “Extracting Events from Spatial Time Series,” Andrienko et al. (2010, pp. 48-53) describe a suite of visual analytics techniques they developed, which combine interactive visualizations on time-aware displays and maps with statistical event detection methods. An important task in exploration of data about phenomena and processes that develop over time is detection of significant changes that happened to the studied phenomenon. The authors’ research is focused on supporting detection of significant changes, called events, in multiple time series of numeric values. Two large data sets demonstrate the utility of this new approach.
Figure 22. Harvey Goldman, Mountain Head Series_02 (© H. Goldman)
Visualization in Education
Rapid growth in the availability of digital libraries of K-12 curriculum, coupled with an increased emphasis on standard-based teaching has led to the development of automated standard assignment tools. René F. Reitsma and Anne R. Diekema (2010, pp. 29-34) examine in a paper entitled "Network Visualization of Human and Machine-Based Educational Standard Assignment" automated standard assignment tools. To assess the performance of one of those tools and to gain insight into the differences between how human catalogers and automated tools conduct these standard assignments, they explore the use of network modeling and visualization techniques for comparing and contrasting the two. The results show significant differences between the human-based and machine-based network maps. Unlike the machine-based maps, the human-based assignment maps elegantly reflect the rationales and principles of the assignments; i.e., clusters of standards separate along lines of content and pedagogical principles. In addition, humans seem significantly more apt at assigning so-called ‘methodological’ standards.
In an article "GVIS: An Integrating Infrastructure for Adaptively Mashing up User Data from Different Sources," Luca Mazzola and Riccardo Mazza (2010, pp. 68-72) present an infrastructure for creating mash up visual representations of the user profile that combines data from different sources. They explore this approach in the context of Life Long Learning, where different platforms or services are often used to support the learning process. The system is highly configurable and adaptive: data sources, data aggregations, and visualizations can be configured on the fly by the administrative user without changing any part of the software, and have an adaptive behavior based on linear combination of conditions about user or system characteristics. The visual profiles produced can assume different graphical formats and can be bound to different data, automatically adapting to personal preferences, knowledge, and contexts. The authors applied their infrastructure to a set of federated Learning Management Systems, retrieving information from different sources and creating some indicators of the learning activity. The software they developed provides learners with adaptive indicators of the learning state, and allows instructors to monitor the progress of their learners.
In a paper "Visualising Virtual Learning Environments: Case Studies of the Website Exploration Tool" Pascual-Cid, et al. (2010, pp. 149-155) describe the long-term evaluation of WET (the Website Exploration Tool) through the assessment of two Virtual Learning Environments (VLE). WET is an exploratory system for visualizing web data. The VLE systems provide log files that can be studied with web mining techniques to understand the behavior of the students and consequently improve the pedagogy. However, statistical metrics are not always easy to interpret for the educators; this suggests the need to develop novel approaches for the easy discovery of usage patterns. The integration of WET in the assessment process of two VLEs gave the authors the opportunity to conduct long-term case studies that supported the evaluation of the visual approaches used in their tool. The main contributions of the study are the description of the benefits of such approaches for the analysis of VLEs as well as recommended features for supporting this task, and a summary of the main findings from the case studies.
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Dr. Anna Ursyn is a Professor and Computer Graphics Area Head at the School of Art and Design, University of Northern Colorado. She had over 30 single juried and invitational art shows and participated in over 100 fine art exhibitions. Her articles and artwork have been published in books and journals. Research and pedagogy interests include integrated instruction in art, science, and computer art graphics. Liaison, Organizing and Program Committee member of IEEE Conferences on Information Visualization – iV: London, UK, and Computer Graphics, Imaging and Visualization Conferences – CGIV. Chair of the Symposium and Digital Art Gallery – D-ART iV.
Dr. Ebad Banissi is a Research Professor of Computer Graphics & Visualization, at the South Bank University, London, UK, and Director of Visualisation & Graphics Research Unit – VGRU. Research and pedagogy interests include computer graphics and visualization applications, in particular rendering, information visualization, graphics and 3D Web presence, forensic digital imaging, and computer animation. Author of many publications, initialized and since 1997 chairs the iV, IEEE Conferences on Information Visualisation at the University of London, England, http://www.graphicslink.co.uk/, and CGIV Computer Graphics, Imaging and Visualisation Conferences. He is involved in a large number of SME Research & Development projects.