This is Part 4 of 7 of the highlights from “Illuminating the Path: The Research and Development Agenda for Visual Analytics.” Please see this post for an introduction to the study and access to the other 6 parts.
As data flooding increases, the human eye may have difficulty focusing on patterns. To this end, VA systems should have “semi-automated analytic engines and user-driven interfaces.” Indeed, “an ideal environment for analysis would have a seamless integration of computational and visual techniques.”
For example, “the visual overview may be based on some preliminary data transformations […]. Interactive focusing, selecting, and filtering could be used to isolate data associated with a hypothesis, which could then be passed to an analysis engine with informed parameter settings. Results could be superimposed on the original information to show the difference between the raw data and the computed model, with errors highlighted visually.”
Yet current mathematical techniques “for representing pattern and structure, as well as visualizing correlations, time patterns, metadata relationships, and networks of linked information,” do not work well “for more complex reasoning tasks—particularly temporal reasoning and combined time and space reasoning […], much work remains to be done.” Furthermore, “existing techniques also fail when faced with the massive scale, rapidly changing data, and variety of information types we expect for visual analytics tasks.”
Furthermore, “the complexity of this problem will require algorithmic advances to address the establishment and maintenance of uncertainty measures at varying levels of data abstraction.” There is presently “no accepted methodology to represent potentially erroneous information, such as varying precision, error, conflicting evidence, or incomplete information.”
To this end, “interactive visualization methods are needed that allow users to see what is missing, what is known, what is unknown, and what is conjectured, so that they may infer possible alternative explanations.”
In sum, “uncertainty must be displayed if it is to be reasoned with and incorporated into the visual analytics process. In existing visualizations, much of the information is displayed as if it were true.”