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Information Visualization. Lecture Outline. Overview of information visualization The role of visualization in the process of data mining The patterns being sought: clusters and outliers Issues when visualizing higher dimensional relationships Criteria for comparison

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lecture outline
Lecture Outline
  • Overview of information visualization
  • The role of visualization in the process of data mining
  • The patterns being sought: clusters and outliers
  • Issues when visualizing higher dimensional relationships
  • Criteria for comparison
  • A range of visualization techniques for exploratory data analysis
information visualization3
Information Visualization
  • A conjunction of a number of fields:
    • Data Mining
    • Cognitive Science
    • Graphic Design
    • Interactive Computer Graphics
information visualization4
Information Visualization
  • Information Visualization attempts to use visual approaches and dynamic controls to provide understanding and analysis of multidimensional data
  • The data may have no inherent 2D or 3D semantics and may be abstract in nature.
  • There is no underlying physical model.
  • Much of the data in databases is of this type
role of information visualization
Role of Information Visualization
  • Acts as an exploratory tool
  • Useful for identifying subsets of the data
  • Structures, trends and outliers may be identified
  • Statistical tests tend to incorporate isolated instances into a broader model as they attempt to formulate global features
  • There is no requirement for an hypothesis, but the techniques can also support the formulation of hypotheses if wanted
integrating visualization with data mining
Integrating Visualization WithData Mining
  • There are four possible approaches:
    • Use the visualization technique to present the results of the data mining process.
    • Use visualization techniques as complements to the data mining process.
      • They complement and increase understanding in a passive way.
integrating visualization with data mining7
Integrating Visualization WithData Mining
  • Use visualization techniques to steer the data mining process.
    • The visualization aids in deciding the appropriate data mining technique to use and appropriate subsets of the data to consider.
  • Apply data mining techniques to the visualization rather than directly to the data.
    • The idea is to capture the essential semantics visually then apply the data mining tools.
the process of knowledge discovery in databases a k a data mining
The Process of Knowledge Discovery in Databases (a.k.a. Data Mining)


Cleaning & Enrichment


Data mining


- clustering

-domain consistency

- segmentation


- prediction


Information Requirement



External data

Operational data

The Knowledge Discovery in Databases (KDD) process (AdZ1996)

visualization in the context of t he data mining process
Visualization in the Context of the Data Mining Process
  • Visualization tools can potentially be used at a number of steps in the DM process. But:
    • the same tools may not be appropriate at each step
    • how they will be used may be different
visualization in the context of t he data mining process10
Visualization in the Context of the Data Mining Process
  • In general, it is not important whether data visualization is the first step in the process or not
    • the feedback loop which moves the process forward may be commenced by either a visualization or a query
visualization in the context of t he data mining process11
Visualization in the Context of the Data Mining Process
  • some visualizations, (e.g. see slide 25) require an initial query to generate a visualization
    • this is an example of a complementary approach
      • questions generate visualizations, which may prompt further questions or generate hypotheses
motivations for visualization
Motivations for Visualization
  • The human visual system is extremely good at recognizing patterns
    • it is quicker and easier to understand visual representations than to absorb information from language or formal notations.
  • Exploratory visualization assists in:
    • identifying areas of interest
    • identifying questions which might usefully be asked
motivations for visualization13
Motivations for Visualization
  • i.e. a relevant or revealing visualization of either part or all of a data set, may suggest useful questions and/or hypotheses to the analyst. These can then be confirmed by more rigorous approaches
    • e.g. some clustering techniques require an initial estimate of the number of clusters present in the data
      • visualization techniques can assist in this estimation
criteria for comparison of visualization tools
Criteria for Comparison of Visualization Tools
  • Number of dimensions that can be represented
  • Number of data items that can be handled
  • Ability to handle categorical and other non-numeric data types
  • Ability to reveal patterns
  • Ease of use
  • Learning Curve (to what degree is the technique intuitive)
examples scatterplot
Examples - Scatterplot
  • Each pair of features (i.e. fields of records) in a multidimensional database is graphed as a point in two dimensions (2D)
    • This straightforward graphing procedure produces a simple scatterplot - a projection of the multidimensional data into 2D
examples scatterplot16
Examples - Scatterplot
  • The scatterplots of all pair-wise combinations of features are arranged in a matrix
    • The figure on the following slide illustrates a scatter plot matrix of 3D from a study of abrasion loss in tyres. The features are hardness, tensile-strength, abrasion-loss [Tie1989]
  • Each “sub-graph” gives insight into the relationship between a pair of features
scatterplot matrix
Scatterplot Matrix
  • Scatterplot matrix of abrasion loss data [Tie1989]
possible problems with scatterplots
Possible Problems With Scatterplots
  • Everitt [Eve78, p. 5] gives two reasons why scatter plots can prove unsatisfactory:
    • if number of features is greater than ~10, the number of plots to be examined is very large
      • this is just as likely to lead to confusion as to knowledge of the structures in the data.
    • structures existing in multidimensional data set do not necessarily appear in the 2D projections of the features represented in scatterplots (see next slide)
possible problems with scatterplots19
Possible Problems With Scatterplots
  • Despite these potential problems, variations on the scatterplot approach are the most commonly used of all the visualization techniques
scatterplots recognizing high dimensional structures 1
Scatterplots: Recognizing High-dimensional Structures - 1
  • A structure which appears as a cluster in a 2D projection may in fact be a “pipe” in 3D
    • a pipe is a structure in 3D that looks like a rod or pipe when viewed in a 3D representation
scatterplots recognizing high dimensional structures 121
Scatterplots: Recognizing High-dimensional Structures - 1
  • While the pipe is easily identifiable in a 3D display only projections of it will appear in the 2D components of the scatterplot matrix
    • depending of the orientation of the pipe in 3D, it may not appear as an obvious cluster, if at all
scatterplots recognizing high dimensional structures 122
Scatterplots: Recognizing High-dimensional Structures - 1
  • Equivalent structures can exist in higher dimensions, e.g. a cluster in 5D might be a “pipe” in 6D
    • the appearance of high-D structures in lower-D projections depends on the luck and skill of the analyst in choosing the projections, and on the alignment of the structures to the axes
scatterplots recognizing high dimensional structures 2
Scatterplots: recognizing high-dimensional structures - 2


May be a plane in 3D

A cluster in 2D

May be a pipe in 3D

(or a cluster in 3D)

example tool spotfire http www spotfire com25
Example Tool: Spotfire
  • The user interacts with data by choosing which features will form the horizontal and vertical axes
  • Other features can be represented by color
    • this is an example of using the richness of visual representations to provide more information to the user. As well as 2D spatial position, other modes such as colour, size, shape and even sound can be used to convey information about high-dimensional data
example tool spotfire http www spotfire com26
Example Tool: Spotfire
  • On the previous slide, the data set contains a 3D cluster
  • The cluster can seen, with its centre at around (20, 74)
    • all the points in the cluster are red, showing that it’s a 3D cluster
example tool dbminer http www dbminer com28
Example Tool: DBMiner
  • DBMiner is an integrated data mining tool
  • It employs a data visualization known as a “data cube” (see On-Line Analytic Processing - OLAP)
example tool dbminer http www dbminer com29
Example Tool: DBMiner
  • After creating a data cube, user can apply a variety of data mining techniques to analyze the data further, including:
    • association, classification, prediction and clustering, etc.
  • The figure on the preceding slide shows a data cube for a data set which has 3D cluster of data instances in a 3D space
examples parallel coordinates 1
Examples: Parallel Coordinates - 1
  • Uses the idea of mapping a point in a multidimensional feature space on to a number of parallel axes
  • Each feature is mapped one axis
    • as many axes as need can be lined up side to side
    • there is no limit to the number of dimensions that can be represented
examples parallel coordinates 131
Examples: Parallel Coordinates - 1
  • A single polygonal line connects the individual coordinate mappings for each point
  • The technique has been applied in air traffic control, robotics, computer vision and computational geometry
examples parallel coordinates 2
Examples: Parallel Coordinates - 2


  • Parallel axes for RN. The polygonal line shown represents the point C= (C1, .... , C i-1, Ci, Ci+1, ... , Cn)





X1 X2 X3 Xi-1 Xn

examples parallel coordinates 3
Examples: Parallel Coordinates - 3
  • The Parallel Coordinates visualization technique is employed in the software WinViz
  • The main advantage of the technique is that it can represent unlimited numbers of dimensions
examples parallel coordinates 334
Examples: Parallel Coordinates - 3
  • When many points are represented using the parallel coordinates, the overlap of the polygonal lines can make it difficult to identify structures in the data.
  • Certain structures, such as clusters, can often be identified but others are hidden due to the overlap.
examples stick figures
Examples: Stick Figures
  • The stick figure technique is intended to make use of the user’s low-level perceptual processes [PGL1995], such as perception of:
    • texture, color, motion, and depth
  • The hope is that the user will “automatically” try to make physical sense of the pictures of the data created
examples stick figures37
Examples: Stick Figures
  • Visualizations which represent multidimensional feature spaces by using a number of subspaces of 3D or less (e.g. scatterplots) rely more on our cognitive abilities than our perceptual abilities
  • Stick figures avoid this, and present all variables and data points in a single representation.
iconographic display using stick figures us census data http ivpr cs uml edu gallery
Iconographic display using stick figures - US Census Data
Examples: Pixel-basedtechniques
  • Query-Dependent Pixel-based Techniques
    • based on a query, a “semantic distance” is calculated between each of the query feature values and the features of each instance in the DB
    • Distance is mapped to colour for each attribute
    • Overall distance between the data values for a specific instance and the data attribute values used in the predicate of the query is also calculated
Examples: Pixel-basedtechniques
  • Instances are arranged on the screen, with the data items with highest relevance in the centre of the display, and then proceeding outwards in a spiral
  • the values for each of the attributes are presented in separate subwindows
  • the arrangement inside the subwindows is according to the overall distance
query dependent pixel based techniques
Query-Dependent Pixel-based Techniques

Overall Distance

  • Result of a complex query [KeK1994]
examples worlds within worlds http www cs columbia edu graphics projects autovisual autovisual html
Examples: Worlds within Worlds
  • Employs virtual reality devices to represent an nD virtual world in 3D or 4D-Hyperworlds
    • basic approach to reducing the complexity of a multidimensional function is to hold one or more of its independent variables constant
      • equivalent to taking an infinitely thin slice of the world perpendicular to the constant variable’s axis
    • can be repeated until there are 3 dimensions and the resulting slice can be manipulated and displayed with conventional 3D graphics hardware
examples worlds within worlds http www cs columbia edu graphics projects autovisual autovisual html46
Examples: Worlds within Worlds
  • After reducing the higher-dimensional space to 3 dimensions the additional dimensions can be added back, by adding additional 3D worlds within the first 3D world
dynamic techniques
Dynamic Techniques
  • Allow interaction with the visualization to explore the data more effectively. Can potentially be applied to all visualization techniques
    • Dynamic linking of the data attributes to the parameters of the visualization.
    • Filtering
    • Linking and “brushing” between multiple visualizations
    • Zooming
    • Details on demand
other techniques
Other Techniques
  • Keim and Kriegel’s query independent approach
  • Chernoff faces
  • Cone trees
  • Perspective walls
  • Visualization Spreadsheet
  • A number of techniques especially developed for web pages and their links
web references
Web References
  • More lectures and demo software available at: