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  Data Visualization Solutions

Visual InsightsTM Software Overview

Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction

[Visual Visualization is a key technology for understanding complex, data-rich systems. Effective visualizations make important features of the data immediately recognizable, and, by highlighting patterns, enable the analyst to discover interesting and useful results.

Our research and development in abstract data visualization focuses on extracting information latent in large corporate databases that can be put to competitive advantage by creating novel and informative displays.

Our systems are based on the following guiding principles:

  1. Reduced representations provide a single unifying view of a database with each data item represented using a small glyph. This overall view enables a user to discover database-wide structure navigate within the database, and coordinate other linked views.
  2. Color and other visual characteristics encode attributes of the data, making patterns in the database easily recognizable.
  3. Interactive filters enable the analyst to reduce the complexity of the display, focus on interesting patterns, and highlight discoveries.
  4. Multiple linked views show different aspects of the database, each answering a related question. The views are linked so that manipulations in one view propagate to all others, providing different insights into the data.
  5. Rapid interaction allows an analyst to query the database by pointing at objects on a screen with the mouse, extracting finer information and revealing detail.
  6. Animation shows the evolution of temporal-oriented databases.
Using these principles we have developed systems for visualizing software, log files, bibliographic databases, relational databases, and networks among others. Samples of these systems follow.

2.0 Production Capability

To support the rapid development of visualization systems, we have developed a C++ class library. This library provides objects that can be easily reused to build new visualizations. It also provides portability for our systems between computers supporting X graphics under Unix and PCs running Microsoft Windows. This library supports the rapid construction of new systems based on our guiding principles, and is a key component in the Visual Insights Software Developer's Kit (SDK).

3.0 Visual Insights Code Viewer

[Visual Insights(tm) Code Age]

The Visual Insights Code Viewer visualizes code by mapping each line of code into a thin row, colored according to a statistic of interest such as the age, programmer, or functionality of each line. For example, red rows may be the newest lines and blue the oldest lines with a color spectrum in between.

FIGURE 1. Visual Insights Code Viewer showing code age: the newest code is in red and the oldest is in blue with a color spectrum in between.

[Visual Insights(tm) Profiling]

The displayed data is derived from a variety of sources, such as version control systems, static analysis, and profiling. By means of direct manipulation and high interaction graphics, the user manipulates this reduced representation of the code in order to find interesting patterns. Further insight is obtained by using additional windows to display the actual code. Potential applications for the code viewer include data discovery, project management, code tuning, and analysis of development methodologies.

FIGURE 2. Visual Insights Code Viewer showing program profiling results. Red indicates hot spots, gray nonexecuted lines, and black nonexecutable lines.

4.0 Visual Insights Difference Viewer

[Visual Insights(tm) Difference Viewer Screen]

The Visual Insights Difference Viewer is an interactive system that has two ways of viewing differences. It includes a file browser for viewing the differences between two files, and a directory browser for viewing the differences between directories and their files. Colors are used in both views to denote difference categories: Same (light grey), Added (green), Deleted (red), and Changed (yellow).

FIGURE 3. Visual Insights Difference Viewer viewing two files. The file browser contains two text areas and a scrollbar in the center that summarizes the difference of the entire two files.

[Visual Insights(tm) Difference Viewer Screen]

FIGURE 4. Visual Insights Difference Viewer can be applied to entire directories and their files, in addition to just two files at a time. The directory/file view, shown here, summarizes the results of diff with several views. The top view show a birds-eye view of the directory structure (but not files), with each node in the directory filled with a bar chart showing the total amount of change in that directory.

5.0 Visual Insights Log Viewer

[Visual Insights(tm) Log Viewer Screen]

The Visual Insights Log Viewer is an interactive visualization system for analyzing streams of time-stamped, typed messages. Each message is represented as a color- and angle-coded tick mark, positioned on a grid with time along the x-axis and type along the y-axis. Temporal correlations and relationships between the types are readily apparent from the colors, angles, and positions of the tick marks. Examples of time stamped data include computer log files, reports on system performance, facility alarms and status, and software fault logs.

FIGURE 5. Visual Insights Log Viewer showing a computer accounting log. Each mark represents one command run on the computer.

6.0 Visual Insights Database Viewer

[Visual Insights(tm) Database Viewer Screen]

The Visual Insights Database Viewer is a visualization system for showing the structure of large relational databases. It has been implemented to display associations between relations (tables), mappings between the database and application code, physical representations of relations, schema information, and paths through a specific database using multiple linked views.

FIGURE 6. Visual Insights Database Viewer shows an overview of the tables in the specific database. Each bar represents one relation with the length and color encoding number of attributes and access method for the relation.

[Visual Insights(tm) Database Viewer Linked Views]

FIGURE 7. Visual Insights Database Viewer provides multiple linked views for examining different aspects of the database. This figure shows views of the access paths through the database, associations between relations based on queries, and the text of database queries being simultaneously displayed.

7.0 Visual Insights Abstract Network Viewer

[Visual Insights(tm) Abstract Network Closeup]

Visual Insights Abstract Network Viewer displays arbitrary data as a network of interconnected nodes, with the placement of the nodes based on their interactions. Examples we have visualized include international toll fraud, communities of interest in a local telephone exchange, and affinity purchasing relationships for retail sales.

FIGURE 8. Visual Insights Abstract Network Viewer visualization of local exchange phone calls. Node placement displays calling pattern, node color defines the amount of time spent talking; link color codes the direction and length of individual conversations.

[Visual Insights(tm) View of Affinities

FIGURE 9. Visual Insights Abstract Network Viewer visualization of affinities in grocery purchases. Items that were purchased together are linked together, with the color of the linkage indicating the frequency that they occurred together.

8.0 Visual Insights Geographical Network Viewer

[Visual Insights(tm) View of Congestion]

Visual Insights Geographical Network Viewer visualizes networks that have a layout based on geography, such as the long distance telephone network. It uses the underlying geography to position nodes, and provides techniques to allow the user to filter the data to make patterns visible. Data may also be animated to show events in time.

FIGURE 10. Visual Insights Geographical Network Viewer display of the long distance telephone network showing congestion following the 1987 San Francisco earthquake, showing congestion at individual switches.

[Visual Insights<tm> Geographical Network Connections]

FIGURE 11. Visual Insights Geographical Network Viewer showing the same data based on network connections between switches.

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Copyright © 1997 Lucent Technologies. All rights reserved.


Last modified: Tue May 6 13:10:58 EDT 1997