Visual analytics

Visual analytics

s. [Pak Chung Wong and J. Thomas (2004). "Visual Analytics". in: "IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications", Volume 24, Issue 5, Sept.-Oct. 2004 Page(s): 20 - 21.]

People use visual analytics tools and techniques to synthesize information and derive insight from massive, dynamic, ambiguous, and often conflicting data; detect the expected and discover the unexpected; provide timely, defensible, and understandable assessments; and communicate assessment effectively for action. [IEEE VAST, [ First international symposium dedicated to advances in visual analytics science and technology] . Retrieved 28 June 2008.]


Visual Analytics is the integration of interactive visualization with analysis techniques to answer a growing range of questions in science, business, and analysis. It can attack certain problems whose size, complexity, and need for closely coupled human and machine analysis may make them otherwise intractable. Visual analytics encompasses topics in computer graphics, interaction, visualization, analytics, perception, and cognition. Robert Kosara (2007). [ "Visual Analytics"] . ITCS 4122/5122, Fall 2007. Retrieved 28 june 2008.]

Visual analytics integrates new computational and theory-based tools with innovative interactive techniques and visual representations to enable human-information discourse. The design of the tools and techniques is based on cognitive, design, and perceptual principles. This science of analytical reasoning provides the reasoning framework upon which one can build both strategic and tactical visual analytics technologies for threat analysis, prevention, and response. Analytical reasoning is central to the analyst’s task of applying human judgments to reach conclusions from a combination of evidence and assumptions. James J. Thomas and Kristin A. Cook (Ed.) (2005). [ "Illuminating the Path: The R&D Agenda for Visual Analytics"] . National Visualization and Analytics Center. p.3-33.]

Visual analytics has some overlapping goals and techniques with Information visualization and Scientific visualization. There is currently no clear consensus on the boundaries between these fields, but broadly speaking the three areas can be distinguished as follows. Scientific visualization deals with data that has a natural geometric structure (e.g., MRI data, wind flows). Information visualization handles abstract data structures such as trees or graphs. Visual analytics is especially concerned with sensemaking and reasoning.

Visual analytics seeks to marry techniques from information visualization with techniques from computational transformation and analysis of data. Information visualization itself forms part of the direct interface between user and machine. Information visualization amplifies human cognitive capabilities in six basic ways: [ Stuart Card, J.D. Mackinlay, and Ben Shneiderman (1999). "Readings in Information Visualization: Using Vision to Think". Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, San Francisco.]
# by increasing cognitive resources, such as by using a visual resource to expand human working memory,
# by reducing search, such as by representing a large amount of data in a small space,
# by enhancing the recognition of patterns, such as when information is organized in space by its time relationships,
# by supporting the easy perceptual inference of relationships that are otherwise more difficult to induce,
# by perceptual monitoring of a large number of potential events, and
# by providing a manipulable medium that, unlike static diagrams, enables the exploration of a space of parameter values.These capabilities of information visualization, combined with computational data analysis, can be applied to analytic reasoning to support the sense-making process.

Areas of visual analytics

Visual analytics is a multidisciplinary field that includes the following focus areas:
* Analytical reasoning techniques that enable users to obtain deep insights that directly support assessment, planning, and decision making
* Data representations and transformations that convert all types of conflicting and dynamic data in ways that support visualization and analysis
* Techniques to support production, presentation, and dissemination of the results of an analysis to communicate information in the appropriate context to a variety of audiences.
* Visual representations and interaction techniques that take advantage of the human eye’s broad bandwidth pathway into the mind to allow users to see, explore, and understand large amounts of information at once

Analytical reasoning techniques

Analytical reasoning techniques are the method by which users obtain deep insights that directly support situation assessment, planning, and decision making. Visual analytics must facilitate high-quality human judgment with a limited investment of the analysts’ time. Visual analytics tools must enable diverse analytical tasks such as:
* Understanding past and present situations quickly, as well as the trends and events that have produced current conditions
* Identifying possible alternative futures and their warning signs
* Monitoring current events for emergence of warning signs as well as unexpected events
* Determining indicators of the intent of an action or an individual
* Supporting the decision maker in times of crisis.These tasks will be conducted through a combination of individual and collaborative analysis, often under extreme time pressure. Visual analytics must enable hypothesis-based and scenario-based analytical techniques, providing support for the analyst to reason based on the available evidence.

Data representations

Data representations are structured forms suitable for computer-based transformations. These structures must exist in the original data or be derivable from the data themselves. They must retain the information and knowledge content and the related context within the original data to the greatest degree possible. The structures of underlying data representations are generally neither accessible nor intuitive to the user of the visual analytics tool. They are frequently more complex in nature than the original data and are not necessarily smaller in size than the original data. The structures of the data representations may contain hundreds or thousands of dimensions and be unintelligible to a person, but they must be transformable into lower-dimensional representations for visualization and analysis.

Theories of visualization

With "Semiology of Graphics" Jacques Bertin’s wanted to developed a science of signs and symbols. This was the first attempt to studying graphics as a language. Bertin mostly focussed on statistical graphics and maps. Other theories of visualization are:
* Nelson Goodman's "Languages of Art" from 1977, which focussed on specifies criteria for images as language, and syntactical and semantic criteria.
* Jock D. Mackinlay's "Automated design of optimal visualization" (APT) from 1986, and
* Leland Wilkinson's "Grammar of Graphics" from 1998, which concise way of defining data-based graphics.

Visual representations

Visual representations translate data into a visible form that highlights important features, including commonalities and anomalies. These visual representations make it easy for users to perceive salient aspects of their data quickly. Augmenting the cognitive reasoning process with perceptual reasoning through visual representations permits the analytical reasoning process to become faster and more focused.

See also

;Related subjects
* Argument mapping
* Business Decision Mapping
* Computational visualistics
* Critical thinking
* Decision making
* Diagrammatic reasoning
* Geovisualization
* Google Analytics
* Social network analysis software
* Software visualization
* Starlight Information Visualization System
* Text analytics
* Traffic analysis
* Visual reasoning
* Wicked problem

;Related scientists
* Cecilia R. Aragon
* Robert E. Horn
* Theresa-Marie Rhyne
* Lawrence J. Rosenblum


Further reading

* Boris Kovalerchuk and James Schwing (2004). "Visual and Spatial Analysis: Advances in Data Mining, Reasoning, and Problem Soving"
* Guoping Qiu (2007). "Advances in Visual Information Systems: 9th International Conference (VISUAL)."
* IEEE, Inc. Staff (2007). "Visual Analytics Science and Technology (VAST), A Symposium of the IEEE 2007."
* May Yuan, Kathleen and Stewart Hornsby (2007). "Computation and Visualization for Understanding Dynamics in Geographic Domains."

External links

* [ "Visual Analytics"] a course by Robert Kosara, 2007.
* [ IEEE Visual Analytics Science and Technology (VAST) Symposium]
* [ National Visualization and Analytics Center (NVAC)]
* [ Visual Analytics Digital Library (VADL)]

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