How do you most effectively visualize data so that it can be easily understood and readily interpreted? That was the topic of a 2 hour panel presentation and discussion sponsored by the TriUPA on Effective Data Visualization held at the NCSU Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI). Members of the panel were leaders in this field and included Christopher G. Healey, Ph.D. from NCSU, Sidharth Thakur, Ph.D. from RENCI and Lisa Whitman from SAS. The panel was moderated by Richard Phelps, Ph.D. from Unisys.
“It has long been recognized that understanding visual perception is crucial to designing effective visualizations”, said Dr. Healey. “To address this need, we conduct controlled psychophysical experiments in collaboration with colleagues in Psychology to investigate how our visual system ‘sees’ fundamental properties of color, texture, and motion. These findings are used to build visualizations that harness the strengths and avoid the limitations of our visual system.”
Dr. Thakur added, “Effective visualization of data has long been regarded as a grand challenge in the area of data visualization. Even as practitioners and researchers in the area actively explore principles and designs of successful visual representations, new challenges to understanding the effectiveness of visualizations have emerged due to democratization of visualization and due to our ability to serve complicated information on ubiquitous small and large display screens.”
”Bombarded by information from different avenues of technology, every day people are faced with the task of monitoring and making sense of increasingly large amounts of information,” said Lisa Whitman. “Dashboards are a popular method for organizing and displaying data so that the information can be monitored at-a-glance on one screen. Dashboard contents may include various forms of data visualizations, graphics, tables, and key performance indicators (KPIs). Dashboards can be an effective means of displaying actionable data to support decisions, but only if they are designed well with the goals and tasks of the user in mind.”
Please feel free to download the full presentations by our panelists.
Christopher G. Healey, Ph.D.
Christopher G. Healey received a B.A. in Math from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Canada, and a M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley, he joined the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University, where he is currently an Associate Professor. His research interests include visualization, graphics, visual perception, and areas of applied mathematics, databases, artificial intelligence, and aesthetics related to visual and data analytics.
Sidharth Thakur, Ph.D.
Sidharth Thakur, Ph.D. is a Senior Researcher at RENCI where he focuses on applied information and scientific data visualization. Dr. Thakur is passionate about creating visualizations that allow scientists and researchers to explore new and exciting hypotheses about pressing research problems in their domains. During his three years at RENCI Dr. Thakur has developed visualization applications and techniques for a variety of disciplines and has published research articles on his work. Dr. Thakur’s current areas of focus are visualization of socio-economic and census data; analysis of spatial and temporal dynamics of molecular systems such as polymers and proteins; and analysis of geo-spatial data in weather and terrain modeling. Prior to joining RENCI Dr. Thakur obtained a doctorate in Computer Science from Indiana University Bloomington where he developed visual-analytical methods to explore geometry in high-dimensional spaces.
Lisa Whitman has worked in usability for over ten years, analyzing user experiences and designing user interfaces for websites, software, and mobile applications. She has worked for SAS since 2005, and before that she has done usability research and design work for Lenovo, Distance Learning Systems Group, and Dunlap & Associates. Her current focus is designing software that enables SAS customers to build interactive dashboards which organize multiple data visualizations on one screen. She has presented her research at conferences including Human-Computer Interaction International and the Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Lisa holds a degree in neuroscience, earned a Master’s degree in human factors psychology from California State University, Northridge, and is studying in the Human Factors and Ergonomics doctoral program at North Carolina State University.