An Interactive Visualization Environment for Data Exploration

Mark Derthick, John Kolojejchick, Steven F. Roth

Exploratory data analysis is a process of sifting through data in search of interesting information or patterns. Analysts’ current tools for exploring data include database management systems, statistical analysis packages, data mining tools, visualization tools, and report generators. Since the exploration process seeks the unexpected in a data-driven manner, it is crucial that these tools are seamlessly integrated so analysts can flexibly select and compose tools to use at each stage of analysis. Few systems have integrated all these capabilities either architecturally or at the user interface level. Visage’s information-centric approach allows coordination among multiple application user interfaces. It uses an architecture that keeps track of the mapping of visual objects to information in shared databases. One result is the ability to perform direct manipulation operations such as drag-and-drop transfer of data among applications. This paper describes Visage’s Visual Query Language and visualization tools, and illustrates their application to several stages of the exploration process: creating the target dataset, data cleaning and preprocessing, data reduction and projection, and visualization of the reduced data. Unlike previous integrated KDD systems’ interfaces, direct manipulation is used pervasively, and the visualizations are more diverse and can be customized automatically as needed. Coordination among all interface objects simplifies iterative modification of decisions at any stage.

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