U.S. Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Rethinking Visual Analytics for Streaming Data Applications

Publish Date: 
Thursday, August 10, 2017
In the age of data science, the use of interactive information visualization techniques has become increasingly ubiquitous. From online scientific journals to the New York Times graphics desk, the utility of interactive visualization for both storytelling and analysis has become ever more apparent. As these techniques have become more readily accessible, the appeal of combining interactive visualization with computational analysis continues to grow. Arising out of a need for scalable, human-driven analysis, primary objective of visual analytics systems is to capitalize on the complementary strengths of human and machine analysis, using interactive visualization as a medium for communication between the two. These systems leverage developments from the fields of information visualization, computer graphics, machine learning, and human-computer interaction to support insight generation in areas where purely computational analyses fall short. Over the past decade, visual analytics systems have generated remarkable advances in many historically challenging analytical contexts. These include areas such as modeling political systems [Crouser et al. 2012], detecting financial fraud [Chang et al. 2008], and cybersecurity [Harrison et al. 2012]. In each of these contexts, domain expertise and human intuition is a necessary component of the analysis. This intuition is essential to building trust in the analytical products, as well as supporting the translation of evidence into actionable insight. In addition, each of these examples also highlights the need for scalable analysis. In each case, it is infeasible for a human analyst to manually assess the raw information unaided, and the communication overhead to divide the task between a large number of analysts makes simple parallelism intractable. Regardless of the domain, visual analytics tools strive to optimize the allocation of human analytical resources, and to streamline the sensemaking process on data that is massive, complex, incomplete, and uncertain in scenarios requiring human judgment.
Crouser J., L. Franklin, and K.A. Cook. 2017. "Rethinking Visual Analytics for Streaming Data Applications." IEEE Internet Computing 21, no. 4:72-76. PNNL-SA-125092. doi:10.1109/MIC.2017.2911428
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