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VisBricks: Multiform Visualization of Large, Inhomogeneous Data

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Published on Jul 12, 2011

Large volumes of real-world data often exhibit inhomogeneities: vertically in the form of correlated or independent dimensions, horizontally in the form of clustered or scattered data items. In essence, these inhomogeneities form the patterns in the data that researchers are trying to find and understand. Sophisticated statistical methods are available to do so, yet the visualization of their outcomes is mostly still done in a one-view-fits-all manner. In contrast, our novel visualization approach, VisBricks, acknowledges the inhomogeneity of the data and the need for different visualizations that suit the individual characteristics of the different data subsets. The overall visualization of the entire data set is patched together from smaller visualizations -- one VisBrick for each cluster in each group of interdependent dimensions. Whereas the total impression of all VisBricks together gives a comprehensive high-level overview of the different groups of data, each VisBrick independently shows details of the group of data it represents. State-of-the-art brushing and visual linking between all VisBricks furthermore allows comparing groupings and the distribution of data items among them. In this paper, we introduce the VisBricks visualization concept, discuss its design rationale and implementation, and demonstrate its usefulness by applying it to a use case from the field of biomedicine.

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