George G. Robertson

George G. Robertson

George G. Robertson is an American information visualization expert and Senior Researcher, Visualization and Interaction (VIBE) Research Group, Microsoft Research. With Stuart K. Card, Jock D. Mackinlay and others he invented a number of Information Visualization techniques. [ Keynote Panel Information Visualization - Where are We and Where Do We Go From Here?] Proceedings Infovis 1996. Retrieved 6 July 2008.]


Robertson has worked as a faculty member of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie-Mellon University, a Senior Scientist at Thinking Machines, and a Senior Scientist at Bolt Beranek and Newman. George G. Robertson (2004). [ Short bio] . Retrieved 6 July 2008.] Before his current position at Microsoft he was Principal Scientist at Xerox PARC. Since 1996 he is a Senior Researcher in the Visualization and Interaction group at Microsoft Research.

He is an ACM Fellow and manages a project on 3D User Interfaces and Information Visualization. He is associate editor of the "Journal of Information Visualization".


Robertson's research interests are user interfaces, 3D interactive animation, 3D graphics, information visualization, intelligent information access, multimedia, hypermedia. At Xerox PARC he has been working primarily on 3D interactive animation interfaces for intelligent information access applications.

He has made pioneering contributions to information visualization, animated 3D user interfaces, multimedia message systems, hypertext systems, operating systems, and programming languages. [ [ George G Robertson] . ACM Fellow, citation 2006. Retrieved 6 July 2008.] And specific to machine learning (genetic Classifier Systems), multimedia message systems (Diamond), hypertext systems (ZOG), operating systems (Accent), and programming languages (L*).

Information Visualizer

At Xerox PARC Robertson was the architect of the Information Visualizer. He invented and co-invented a number of visualizing techniques, including Cone Trees, the Perspective Wall, the Spiral visualization, the Document Lens, the WebBook, and was also the pioneer of the Web Forager. He continues to work on new visualization techniques, particularly in 3D (e.g., the Data Mountain). [ George Robertson] , at Visualization and Interaction (VIBE) Research Group, Microsoft Research, last updated 9 March 2004. Retrieved 6 July 2008.]

At CHI’91, Xerox PARC introduced a prototype system called the Information Visualizer, along with two information visualization techniques: Cone Trees for visualizing hierarchical information structures, and the Perspective Wall for visualizing linear information structures. In the 1990s a number of companies and research labs have begun exploring and commercializing this area. In addition, a number of conferences have had sessions on Information Visualization.

Information Visualization

At the InfoVis Symposia 1996 Robertson asked the question if visualization techniques can work for non-numerical business information? Information Visualization uses 3D computer graphics and interactive animation to stimulate recognition of patterns and structure in information. It does so by exploiting the human perceptual system in ways similar to Scientific Visualization, which allows scientists to perceive patterns in large data collections. While Scientific Visualization typically works on data from simulations of physical processes, Information Visualization works on the structure of information inherent in large information spaces.

Hierarchy visualization

Hierarchy visualization according to Robertson in 2003 has been a hot topic in the Information Visualization community for over a decade. A number of hierarchy visualization techniques have been invented, with each having advantages for some applications, but limitations or disadvantages for other applications. No technique has succeeded for a wide variety of applications. The struggle continues with basic problems of high cognitive overhead (e.g., loss of context), poor fit to the data (e.g., problems of scale), and poor fit to the user’s taskat hand (e.g., handling multiple points of focus). At the same time, information access improvements have made available to us much richer sources of information, including multiple hierarchies and other relationships. Robertson calls this broader problem Polyarchy Visualization. [George G. Robertson (2003) [ "From Hierarchies to Polyarchies: Visualizing Multiple Relationships"] . ( [ presentation] ). Retrieved 6 July 2008.]

See also

* Connection Machine‎
* Gender HCI‎


Articles, a selection:
* 1972. "XCRIBL - A Hardcopy Scan Line Graphics System for Document Generation". With Raj Reddy, W. Broadley, Lee D. Erman, R. Johnsson, J. Newcomer, and J. Wright. In: "Inf. Process. Lett." 1(6): 246-251.
* 1978. "An Extensible File System for Hydra". With Guy T. Almes. In: "ICSE 1978": 288-294.
* 1981. "Accent: A Communication Oriented Network Operating System Kernel". With: Richard F. Rashid, in: "SOSP 1981": 64-75.
* 1987. "Parallel Implementation of Genetic Algorithms in a Classifier Rystem". in: "ICGA 1987": 140-147.
* 1988. "Population Size in classifier Systems". in: "ML 1988": 142-152.
* 1989. "The cognitive coprocessor architecture for interactive user interfaces". With S. K. Card, and J. D. Mackinlay. In: "Proceedings of the ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology", pages 10--18. ACM Press, Nov 1989.
* 1991. "Cone Trees: Animated 3D Visualizations of Hierarchical Information". With Jock D. Mackinlay and Stuart K. Card. In: Robertson, Scott P., Olson, Gary M. and Olson, Judith S. (eds.) Proceedings of the ACM CHI 91 Human Factors in Computing Systems Conference April 28 - June 5, 1991, New Orleans, Louisiana. pp. 189-194.
* 1993. "Information Visualization Using 3D Interactive Animation". With Stuart K. Card, and Jock D. Mackinlay. In: "Communications of the ACM", 36(4), April 1993. pp. 57-71.
* 1993. "The document lens". With J. D. Mackinlay. In: "Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology". ACM Press, Nov 1993.


External links

* [ George G. Robertson] Homepage at Microsoft research.
* [ George Robertson's Recent Publications and Talks] .
* [ List of publications] at

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