Talk:Information visualization

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Creation of a new Infovis page[edit]

I have put together the following text as a starting point for a new Infovis page. All the usual caveats apply, but bear in mind that the infovis page was deleted and refactored into scientific visualisation. IMHO this does no justice to either field, and leaves a scivis page with a bizarre split personality.

Please do not 'dilute' the proposed page with references from related fields. I believe this is what led, indirectly, to the loss of the original page.

Suggested text, taken from a 2005 version of the wikipedia infovis page, that seems to have been good enough to be cited in the infovis wiki;

As a subject in computer science, information visualization is the use of interactive, sensory representations, typically visual, of abstract data to reinforce cognition.

Information visualization is a complex research area. It builds on theory in information design, computer graphics, human-computer interaction and cognitive science.

Practical application of information visualization in computer programs involves selecting, transforming and representing abstract data in a form that facilitates human interaction for exploration and understanding.

Important aspects of information visualization are the interactivity and dynamics of the visual representation. Strong techniques enable the user to modify the visualization in real-time, thus affording unparalleled perception of patterns and structural relations in the abstract data in question.

Although much work in information visualization regards to visual forms, auditory and other sensory representations are also of concern.

-(Information Visualisation Wikipedia, 2005)

The use of computer-supported, interactive, visual representations of abstract data to amplify cognition.

— [Card et al., 1999]

Information visualization is visualization of abstract data. This is data that has no inherent mapping to space. Examples for abstract data are the results of a survey or a database of the staff of a company containing names, addresses, salary and other attributes.

— [Voigt, 2002]


(books specifically about 'information visualisation' topics - I have excluded some on the grounds that while they are useful, relevant and even well cited within information visualisation, they are not specifically about information visualisation - tufte refers to his work as infomation graphics)

Academic Journal[edit]

IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, IEEE, ISSN 1077-2626  Missing or empty |title= (help) Information Visualization, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan, ISSN 1473-8716  Missing or empty |title= (help)

Academic Conferences[edit]

[[IEEE]] Symposium on Information Visualization (InfoVis). IEEE.  URL–wikilink conflict (help)

There is also the annually held International Conference on Information Visualization (IV).

International Conference Information Visualization (IV '07) . IEEE Computer Society. 

(how to properly cite a conference? rather than a conference paper!)

External links[edit]

{{Visualization}} [[Category:Computer science]] [[Category:Visualization]]

StephenDeGabrielle 21:48, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

A new start[edit]

Hi, I have rewritten this article from scratch, focusing on this new field of science, which emerged as subfield of computer graphics and scientific visualisation in the 1990s. It is especially not my intention that this article is going to develop as a main article about visualization of information.

This new article is part of the development of a series of new articles, thematically:

And biographical articles, new and or improved:

And the creation of several new categories in wikicommons, see here, and particularly the categories on Scientific visualization, Data visualization, and Information visualization.

I hope to continu to improve the Wikipedia representation on visualisation, and all it's aspects, some more soon. -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 08:38, 12 August 2008 (UTC)


I've clarified the definition, in accordance with the consensus usage I'm seeing. See the material collected under "definition" on this user page:

The previous version of this article said that information visualization dealt with "non-numerical" data sets, but this isn't quite right... there certainly are numerical data sets in the core of infovis (time series, high-dimensional data). The crux of the distinction is that infovis deals with data that does not have some intrinsic 2D or 3D structure. --Infografica (talk) 23:48, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

I readded the first defintionm, because:
  • Information visualization is both the "interdisciplinary study" of and "the use of". Not just simply "the use of"
  • The source here is reliabe: S.G. Eick (1994). "Graphically displaying text". In: Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics, vol 3, pp. 127–142
Wikipedia article are build on reliable sources, not on personal interpretation.
Now I noticed there are more authors, who link "information visualization" and "non-numerical information". For example:
  • "Information Visualization" is the process of transforming abstract, typically non-numerical information (such as text) into more easily... Source: JS Risch, DB Rex, ST Dowson, ТВ Walters, RA May & BD Moon (1999). "The STARLIGHT Information Visualization System". In: Stuart K. Card, Jock D. Mackinlay, Ben Shneiderman. Readings in information visualization: using vision to think. p.551.
One last thing. You gave the definition:
Information visualization is the use of graphical techniques to help people understand and analyze data. In contrast with scientific visualization, information visualization focuses on abstract data sets, such as unstructured text or points in high-dimensional space, that do not have an inherent 2D or 3D geometrical structure.
Based on:
  • Card, Mackinlay, and Shneiderman, "Readings in Information Visualization: Using Vision to Think," 1999.</
  • Tamara Munzner, Guest Editor's Introduction IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications Special Issue on Information Visualization, Jan/Feb 2002
  • John Stasko, syllabus for CS7450, "Information Visualization."
Now the third source John Stasko stated:
  • Information visualization is a new research area that focuses on the use of visualization techniques to help people understand and analyze data.
Two things here. One, you lost the "a new research area". And second, if you reference so specific, you should have referenced the first sentence. I will change this in the article.
-- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 21:12, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
Hi Marcel, I'd like to discuss this issue of "non-numerical information." You are absolutely right that "information visualization" has been linked to non-numeric data. The point is that information visualization is not restricted to non-numerical data.
I'd like to lay out the evidence for why a definition of "information visualization" should include numerical data.
First, you'll note that the three sources supporting an inclusive definition (Card et al, Munzner, Stasko) are authoritative in the field. Munzner's definition in particular is frequently used. None of these include a restriction to non-numerical data. On the other hand, the Eick 1994 paper does discuss text visualization but does not address the definition of "information visualization". (Indeed, do a search for the term on the paper and you'll see it only occurs in the bibliography). Your Risch et al source does say "typically" non-numerical data, but I don't think this one reference outweighs the many authoritative references that support a more inclusive definition. Furthermore, that paper was published in 1997 (your 1999 date refers to a reprint) and so is probably not the best indicator of current parlance.
A second line of reasoning is to look at sets of papers that the academic community labels as "information visualization." For example, one might consider papers published in the IEEE Information Visualization Symposium, which is the flagship conference in the field. If you look at these papers, you'll see work on multidimensional scaling, parallel coordinates, scatterplot projections, and so forth--all of which deal with purely numerical data.
Given the evidence from multiple modern inclusive definitions, as well as actual usage, it seems like an overall inclusive definition would be preferable. --Infografica (talk) 13:54, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
The most widely use definition of information visualization in the commuity is from the Card, Mackinlay, and Shneiderman book (in your reference list above) "Information Visualization: The use of interactive visual representations of abstract, non-physically based data to amplify cognition." This is contrasted there to scientific visualizatin which deals mostly with physically based data. Abstract data does not have to be non-numerical. In fact, a table of financial data is numeric but definitely abstract as money has no physical equivalent (in contrast to say, a CT scan). You should definitely remove the non-numerical out of the definition for information visualization. Pisenberg (talk) 13:10, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. This page surely requires heavy editing from InfoVis researchers. -- (talk) 05:44, 16 July 2012 (UTC)
—Preceding unsigned comment added by Pisenberg (talkcontribs) 13:09, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

removed advertisements and OT infographics software link[edit]

removed advertisements for starlight' removed OT infographics software link - no infovis software in list.

StephenDeGabrielle (talk) 01:44, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Seems to me that the "Software and toolkits" section should be rewritten to generically describe software that does information visualization with a main link to "List of information visualization software" (similar to List of numerical analysis software), that lists all the numerous products (open source and commercial) that are available in this area. Not sure why prefuse is getting it's own spot and it's talking about the older java version, not the new actionscript Flare, so I'm not sure how up to date it is anyway. Morphh (talk) 12:49, 06 May 2009 (UTC)

Article section(s) removed[edit]

Due to possible violation of copyright, see WP:Copyvio, I have removed one or more section of this article for now.

Hereby I restored the overview en history section to the July 1, 2008 15.10 (UTC) version, see here

I apologize for all inconvenience I have caused here, see also here. If you would like to assist in improving this article, please let me know. I can use all the help I can get. Thank you.

-- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 19:20, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

Copied and pasted from various Wikipedia articles[edit]

This article or section appears to have been copied and pasted from various Wikipedia articles, possibly in violation of a copyright. This has occurred in 2008, when I expanded this article article.

I apologize for all inconvenience I have caused here, see also here. If you would like to assist in improving this article, please let me know. I can use all the help I can get. Thank you.

-- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 19:20, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

Copy-paste registration[edit]

-- Mdd (talk) 19:44, 1 November 2009 (UTC)


In order to start improving this article I have started to collect some quotes:

  • "Information visualization is the process of transforming abstract, typical non numerical information (such as text) into more easily understandable, graphical forms. Information Visualization approaches typically involve converting non-numerical information into a numerical form prior to the application of statistical graphics of visualization techniques commonly used by the scientific and business communities". (p.551)
  • "Information visualization is the use of computer-supported, interactive, visual representation of abstract data in order to amplify cognition. Its purpose is not the pictures themselves, but insight (or rapid information assimilation or monitoring large amounts of data). Information visualization is part of the new media made possible by the development of real-time visual computer." (p.637)
  • "...information visualization can be broadly defined as a computer-aided process that aims to reveal insights into an abstract phenomenon by transforming abstract data into visualspatial forms".
  • "Information visualization is truly an interdisciplinary field of study."
  • "Information visualization is the use of computer-supported, interactive, visual representation of abstract data in order to amplify cognition. (Card, Mackinlay, & Schneiderman, 1999)."
    • Julie A. Jacko et al. (2003). The human-computer interaction handbook: fundamentals, evolving technologies. p.551
  • "Information visualization is the use of graphical techniques to help people understand and analyze data. In contrast with scientific visualization, information visualization focuses on abstract data sets, such as unstructured text or points in high-dimensional space, that do not have an inherent 2D or 3D geometrical structure".
  • "We define information visualization more generally as the communication of abstract data relevant in terms of action through the use of interactive visual interfaces". (p.2.)
  • "Information visualization is the use of computer-supported, interactive, visual representation of abstract data to amplify cognition [1]."
    • Michael J. Smith (2007). Human interface and the management of information. p.328
  • " used today, the term information visualization is generally applied to the visual representation of large-scale collections of non-numerical information, such as files and lines of code in software systems [66], library and bibliographic databases, networks of relations on the internet, and so forth".
    • Michael Friendly (2008). Milestones in the history of thematic cartography, statistical graphics, and data visualization. p.2.


  1. Friendly's quote is based on: Eick, S. G. (1994). "Graphically displaying text". In: Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics, 3:127–142. 2.
  2. Also the lead sentence of the current article (see here) is based on only part of Friendly's definition.
  3. The Information Visualization wiki (here) gives in total 15 defintions
  4. The different definitions specify different aspects: the process of visualization, a medium for representation, a means of communication ... and the study of these

  • "Information visualization as a field of study has grown tremendously over the last few years. Since the first IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization in 1995 at Atlanta, Georgia..."


  1. The beginning of scientific visualization is generaly marked by the 1987 National Science Foundation (NSF) report, the history of IV seem to start in 1995.

Goals of visualization
  • "The intention of information visualization is to optimize the use of our perceptual and visual-thinking ability in dealing with phenomena that might not readily lend themselves to visual-spatial representations."
  • "Information visualization traditionally focuses on finding meaningful and intuitive ways to represent non-spatial and non-numerical information to people".
  • "There are three major goals of visualization, namely a) presentation, b) confirmatory analysis, and c) exploratory analysis. For presentation purposes, the facts to be presented are fixed a priori, and the choice of the appropriate presentation technique depends largely on the user. The aim is to efficiently and effectively communicate the results of an analysis. For confirmatory analysis, one or more hypotheses about the data serve as a starting point. The process can be described as a goal-oriented examination of these hypotheses. As a result, visualization either confirms these hypotheses or rejects them. Exploratory data analysis as the process of searching and analyzing databases to find implicit but potentially useful information, is a difficult task. At the beginning, the analyst has no hypothesis about the data."

Remark This text is not so much about information visualization, but about visualization in general... better fitted in the graphics article.

Relation to other fields
  • "Information visualisation needs to be distinguished from related areas: Scientific visualization is like information visualisation, but applied to scientific data, typically physically based. The starting point... tend to emphasize finding a way to make visable the invisable (say, velocity of air flow) within an existing spatial framework. The chief problem is .. often finding an effective mapping between entities and a spatial representation. Both information visualisation and scientific visualization belong to the broader field of data graphics, which is the use of abstract, nonrepresentational visual representations to amplify cognition. Data graphics, in turn, is part of information design, which concerns itselfs with external respresentations for emplifying cognition. At the highest level we could consider information design a part of external cognition, the uses of external world to accomplish soem cognitive process..."
    • Julie A. Jacko et al. (2003). The human-computer interaction handbook: fundamentals, evolving technologies. p.551
  • "Visualization with spatial structures is called scientific visualization. On the other hanb, information visualization is a term applied to visualizing information without spatial structures. For example, web networks, documents, and directory structures are targets of information visualization [2]. With adaquate information visualization, it is easy to carry the information to the users. Information visualization is an effective method to graps a complete view of the data."
    • Michael J. Smith (2007). Human interface and the management of information. p.328
  • "In the last decade, information visualization has developed numerous techniques to visualize datasets,, but only some of them are scalable to the huge data sets used in visual analytics.

Some further remarks

I happen to notice that both Jacko (2003) and Smith (2007) didn't use quotation marks to quote Card, Mackinlay, & Schneiderman, 1999.

Also Keim et al., 2006 is referenced on an Information Visualization wiki (here) as follows

Information visualization (InfoVis) is the communication of abstract data through the use of interactive visual interfaces. [Keim et al., 2006]

...without quotation marks...!?

-- Mdd (talk) 23:34, 25 November 2009 (UTC) First update - Mdd (talk) 00:41, 26 November 2009 (UTC) Second update - Mdd (talk) 00:36, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

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SolidSX image[edit]

This sort of looks like an advertisement. Can we make the description more in line with describing the visualization method, and less promotional? Otherwise, I think we should remove it. Morphh (talk) 16:06, 14 May 2012 (UTC) The links to Starlight Information Visualization System, Command Post of the Future and Informedia Digital Library might also improper in this article. It would seem this section would be describing the application of information visualization, not software applications that visualize information. Morphh (talk) 16:10, 14 May 2012 (UTC)