Colloquium Summary 2

The Thrill of Discovery: Information Visualization for High Dimensional Spaces
Dr. Ben Schneiderman
University of Maryland

The history of human computer interface research has focused primarily on user friendliness and user accessibilty. Much has been accomlished particularly with regard to smaller tasks. More recently Dr. Ben Schneider, has aimed to boost productivity by giving experts new means of visualizing, organizing, and querying their data.

One of Schneiderman's main points was "The eyes are not merely input devices, but they allow us to recognize trends and gather and analyze data." Tools like the Treemap[1] and Hierarchical Clustering Explorer[2] allow the user to rank and visualize correlations and outliers quickly.
A common theme with all of these tools is the ability to "overview, use multiple selection, zoom and filter, get details on demand". By allowing the user to quickly tweak and manipulate multiple parameters, he is able to "discover questions, he didn't even know he had."

I find this research particularly exciting as the modern problem of information overload has flooded our capacity to make meaningful decisions. While these methods of visualization can not be used for all problems, they certainly have potential to aid the domain expert, who
is already intimate with his data, but might not know the exact source for his answer.