What is Visual Data Analysis?


Visual data analysis blends highly advanced computational methods with sophisticated graphics engines to tap the extraordinary ability of humans to see patterns and structure in even the most complex visual presentations. Currently applied to massive, heterogeneous, and dynamic datasets, such as those generated in studies of astrophysical, fluidic, biological, and other complex processes, the techniques have become sophisticated enough to allow the interactive manipulation of variables in real time. Ultra high-resolution displays allow teams of researchers to zoom into interesting aspects of the renderings, or to navigate along interesting visual pathways, following their intuitions and even hunches to see where they may lead. New research is now beginning to apply these sorts of tools to the social sciences as well, and the techniques offer considerable promise in helping us understand complex social processes like learning, political and organizational change, and the diffusion of knowledge.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • It is rare that an engineer is not faced with massive amounts of data generated through research or through plant operation or through monitoring a system etc. The data generated from even undergraduate research can be daunting - how to analyse it? how to present it? what does it show? A new dimension is our increading responsiveness to social pressures requiring qualitative data to be collected and integrated with quantitative data. VDA offers a systems approach to this data analysis. (I also think that there is a place for this as the 2nd layer upon Augmented Reality - we get the data but as engineers we need to process it and VDA may allow us to continue this analysis.) - lydia.kavanagh lydia.kavanagh Aug 30, 2010
  • another response here

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Research requires that methods be clearly articulated and supported. VDA will need to have credibility in the scientific community. - lydia.kavanagh lydia.kavanagh Aug 30, 2010
  • another response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • For engineering - as an add on to augmented reality it will be an amazing method of delivering much content from broad topics such as design and control to more defined courses such as thermodynamics and engineering mechanics. - lydia.kavanagh lydia.kavanagh Aug 30, 2010
  • For research ~ it will allow collected data to be visualised, connected, and analysed in a way that should allow students to make connections and really get to grips with what they are trying to investigate. - lydia.kavanagh lydia.kavanagh Aug 30, 2010

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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