3333 Coyote Hill Road
Palo Alto, California

Because nothing say "I love you" quite like a PivotTable view in a database ;)


Visual Interfaces for Databases
Jock Mackinlay, Tableau Software
Trackback URL: http://www.baychi.org/trackback/1150 (?)

Visual interfaces and databases are success stories in the computer revolution. But their synergy has been modest, probably because visual interfaces have focused on human capabilities, while databases have focused on efficient query processing.

The success of visual interfaces started with the Graphical User Interface (GUI), which supplanted the command line interface by exploiting the power of the human visual motor system. Given advances in graphics hardware in the mid-1980s, research started on visualization, the use of interactive, visual representations of data to amplify cognition.

Jock will briefly describe his dissertation, which formalized Jacques Bertin's design theory, adding psychophysical data, resulting in a system that could automatically design graphical presentations. The 1990s were a fertile time for visualization research, culminating in a book co-authored by him that includes a formal reference model for describing visualization systems. However, this research had little impact on databases, even though queries are essentially a command line interaction.

Rather, the success story of databases started with the invention of relational databases that supported efficient transactions. The 1980s saw a huge effort to rework our institutions to use computers to manage our vital data ranging from our birth statistics to the legacy that we leave our children.

In the 1990s, we developed multi-dimensional databases to create data warehouses for the efficient analysis of this data. However, analysis and exploration place significant demands on the interfaces to these databases, which might be addressed with visual interfaces for databases. Because of the size of the data sets, dense graphical representations are more effective for exploration than spreadsheets and charts. Furthermore, because of the exploratory nature of the analysis, it must be possible for the analysts to change visualizations rapidly as they pursue a cycle involving first hypothesis and then experimentation.

The speaker will describe an interface for exploring large multi-dimensional databases that extends the well-known Pivot Table interface. The novel features include an interface for constructing visual specifications of table-based graphical displays and the ability to generate a precise set of relational queries from the visual specifications. The visual specifications can be rapidly and incrementally developed, giving the analyst visual feedback as they construct complex queries and visualizations.

Jock Mackinlay is director of visual analysis for Tableau Software. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University, where he pioneered the automatic design of graphical presentations of relational information. He joined Xerox PARC in 1986, where he collaborated with the User Interface Research Group to develop many novel applications of computer graphics for information access and to coin the term "Information Visualization." The fruits of this research can be found in his book, Readings in Information Visualization: Using Vision to Think (Morgan Kauffman, written and edited with Stuart K. Card and Ben Shneiderman). He holds numerous patents in user interfaces and is a member of the editorial board of IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications.

Visualizations Demo
Eric Rodenbeck and Michal Migurski, Stamen Design; Josh On, TheyRule.net; and Jeffrey Heer, UC Berkeley
Trackback URL: http://www.baychi.org/trackback/1152 (?)

There will be several cool visualization demos.

Eric Rodenbeck and Michal Migurski from Stamen Design will show some of their visualization work, including Mappr.

Eric Rodenbeck is the founder and creative director of Stamen Design in San Francisco, with a client list including BMW, MoveOn.org, ProChoiceAmerica, DesignworksUSA, Vito Acconci, The Exploratorium, and the University of Southern California. Mappr.com, which places Flickr photos on an interactive map of the United States, is an example of studio's web-based data visualization work.

Eric is a ten-year veteran of the interactive design field, and has spent much of this time working to extend the boundaries of online media and live information visualization. His past endeavors include leading the interactive storytelling and data-driven narrative work at Quokka Sports, illustration and book design at Wired Magazine and Wired Books, and founding the design collective Umwow. He studied architecture at Cooper Union in New York City has a degree in the History and Philosophy of Technology from The New School for Social Research.

Michal Migurski is the technology lead of Stamen Design, a boutique design and application development firm in San Francisco. With Stamen, Migurski has helped create a body of data visualization and interactive work for clients such as MoveOn, BMW, the University of Southern California, and others. Stamen is actively engaged in visual exploration of web services, and is responsible for experimental projects such as Mappr and In The News. Migurski has been working with maps in interactive web-based applications since 2001. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley's Cognitive Science program.

Josh On will demo TheyRule.net.

They Rule allows you to create maps of the interlocking directories of the top companies in the US in 2004. The data was collected from their websites and SEC filings in early 2004, so it may not be completely accurate - companies merge and disappear and directors shift boards.

Josh On is the creator of TheyRule.net and despite what the NSA might say wants to do good.

Jeffrey Heer from UC Berkeley will demo some of his visualization work. He is a 4th year Ph.D. student in the Computer Science Division at U.C. Berkeley, working with the Berkeley Institute of Design. Jeff is also an alumnus of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and more recently of Tableau Software, an information visualization company spun out of Stanford. Jeff's research interests lie in Human-Computer Interaction, where he has worked on theory, tools, and techniques for Information Visualization and on the design and implementation of various Ubiquitous Computing systems. He is also the creator of "prefuse," a popular software toolkit for creating information visualization applications.

Added by rmm on January 18, 2006