Solar Plots





Our group does research in the following five areas, ranging from basic research to application development.

    Basic visualization and interaction techniques
    We are investigating novel ways of exploring information. These include new types of visualizations based on 3D graphics, animation, distortion and other types of techniques. We are also working on enabling the user to interact with visualizations, manipulate them, change views, make queries, aggregate data, and perform other information-extraction operations. The interaction techniques are based on the broader notion of "physicalization" of abstract spaces. Details about the essence of this type of research are provided with the description of the individual prototypes we have developed: SDM, VQE and solarPlots.

    Automated visualization design
      We design systems that help users efficiently create visualizations that support their tasks. To do this we research the variety of factors that contribute to the expressiveness and effectiveness of visualizations and formalize this knowledge to enable automated design. In this area we have developed three systems that work together to provide expertise for end users: SAGE, which is an expert system specialized in graphic design, SageBrush, which is an interface for sketching visualizations, and SageBook, which is a browsable and searchable collection of visualizations that can serve as models or be adapted to the specific needs of the user.

    Multimedia explanations

We apply the principles of communication to develop new methods for automated generation of multimedia presentations. Our focus is on natural language and information graphics explanations of quantitative and relational domains. A distinguishing feature of our approach is the principled use of intentions in planning the presentation and realizing the plan in both text and graphics. We are developing the AutoBrief system, which is a generic multimedia generation system, and using it for explanation of problems and causal relations in the domain of transportation scheduling.

    User interface environments

We develop data exploration environments where users directly perceive and act upon information. For several years we have been collaborating with MAYA Design Group on Visage - a prototype environment, which takes a radically "information-centric" user interface approach. Visage provides techniques for locating, selecting, visualizing, manipulating, analyzing and communicating information. Visage is intended to serve as a common interface to a variety of applications providing specialized services to the user. A distinct part of Visage is VQE - a tool for visually querying complex data bases and supporting such operations as dynamic aggregation and computing derived attributes.

    Interfaces for applications

We want the concepts that we develop in our research to be viable and able to endure the tests of real life. Therefore, we engage in application development where we collaborate with users and demonstrate how they can perform their tasks more efficiently by using adequate visualization tools. Our first attempt at building an interface to an application system was the integration of Visage, Sage, and Autobrief into a single coherent interface of an automated reactive scheduling system (see details).

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