Vialab contributions to IEEE VIS 2017

Vialab members had several contributions to the IEEE VIS conference in Phoenix this month. Our contributions also represented the extent of the lab’s collaborations, from France, Scotland, Germany, Canada, and the USA.

Menna El-Assady (also affiliated with University of Konstanz) presented our paper on progressive learning of topic model parameters, for which we received an honourable mention for best paper! Her framework allows people who do not know about the inner workings of topic models to guide the settings of the parameters by examining the outputs of competing models and “voting” on their preference. Through an evolutionary approach, the topic models are refined without ever having to play with complex settings.

Hrim Mehta presented her work on Data Tours in collaboration with Dr. Fanny Chevalier and colleagues at Inria, in France. Hrim’s poster presented our idea of how to author semi-automated tours of large datasets, which can be used as a narrative overview of datasets for which a static overview would be too cluttered or overwhelming.

Mariana Shimabukuro presented her poster on automatically abbreviating text labels for visualizations. She used a crowd-sourcing platform to gather abbreviation strategies from many participants and simultaneously measured the success of these abbreviations by asking other participants to decode them. The resulting abbreviation algorithm is available as an API to abbreviate your own labels on visualizations made with d3 or other web-based platforms.

Mariana also is a co-author on an IEEE TVCG paper on font size as a data encoding, first-authored by Dr. Eric Alexander of Carleton College and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin. Eric’s talk highlighted the surprising finding that people are much better at judging differences in font size than expected, even when doing so in the presence of biasing factors such as varying length of words. This work lends credibility to the use of font size as a visual encoding, at least for tasks where “which is bigger” is the main question.

Dr. Christopher Collins was a co-organizer of the 2nd workshop on Immersive Analytics, a full-day event at VIS which attracted a number of papers and a whole lot of open research questions.

Dr. Collins, Menna El-Assady, and Dr. Adam Bradley were co-authors on Risk the Drift! Stretching Disciplinary Boundaries through Critical Collaborations between the Humanities and Visualization“, a position paper advocating for flexibility in interdisciplinary research presented at the 2nd Visualization for Digital Humanities Workshop (VIS4DH), which Dr. Collins and Menna El-Assady were also co-organizers.