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Periodic Table of Visualization April 1, 2007

Posted by gordonwatts in computers.

Scott left a comment on my blog which lead me to explore his blog (you know, the blog thing). He had short post on visualizing data — a passion of mine that I rarely have done anything about. But a comment in his blog led me to the Periodic Table of Visualization. Catalogs just about every type of chart, plot, or other weird visualization. Including a parameter ruler and an iceberg.🙂 Worth spending a few minutes poking around. I wonder how many of them would useful for HEP?

This reminds me of something I heard about a few months ago, called DynaVis – a display technology out of MS research. Now that my memory has been triggered, I was able to find a video demo of it (but no info on the MS research pages). I think the idea behind it is to take one set of data and represent it with several different plot types. The difference is that as shift from one plot type to the other is animated. So if you switch from a histogram to a pie chart, for example, the pie wedge shapes deform to histogram bars and fly out to a appear on an axis. The state goal is that this helps your eye track what happens to the data as you view it in different ways. While cool looking I’m having trouble wrapping my head around how that would be helpful in my work.

But, it did remind me of something else (ha!). A long time ago at a conference that I can’t remember (CHEP, possibly) I saw a presentation from a fellow running a company called Mind The Gap. Based in the UK, they took many UN population and country financial databases and put them together into very attractive plots that were animated. Instead of using time they would use something like GDP and you could see how various country’s performance varied as the plot evolved. Further, the plots were full of information: the dots size, position, and color all had significance and could all change. Now that plot I thought I might be able to use — but they never released their software as far as I can tell. And I can’t find them on the web any longer (I used to be able to find them).

Actually, there was an effort in D0 at one point using some sgi based software to build an event display and you could attach all sorts of properties to a jet or electron’s arrow (arrow head size could represent EMF, length could be the pT, etc.). That was back in the days it looked like sgi was going to take over all of HEP computing.

Then again, with HEP’s relentless push to use only PDF, and only the most basic versions of PDF, animation is disappearing from all of our talks. Not that animation is always a good thing, of course!


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