Information Visualization

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Information visualization (InfoVis) produces (interactive) visual representations of abstract data to reinforce human cognition and perception; thus enabling the viewer to gain knowledge about the internal structure of the data and causal relationships in it.


The use of computer-supported, interactive, visual representations of abstract data to amplify cognition.
[Card et al., 1998]

Information visualization, an increasingly important subdiscipline within HCI , focuses on graphical mechanisms designed to show the structure of information and improve the cost of access to large data repositories. In printed form, information visualization has included the display of numerical data (e.g., bar charts, plot charts, pie charts), combinatorial relations (e.g., drawings of graphs), and geographic data (e.g., encoded maps). Computer-based systems, such as the information visualizer and dynamic queries have added interactivity and new visualization techniques (e.g., 3D, animation).
[Averbuch, 2004]


Application of information visualization on the computer involves providing means to transform and represent data in a form that allows and encourages human interaction. Data can therefore be analyzed by exploration rather than pure reasoning; users can develop understanding for structures and connections in the data by observing the immediate effects their interaction has upon the visualization.

Information Visualization Example
Visualization of a directory structure using a botanical model


Information visualization is applied in countless areas covering every industry and all tasks where understanding of the intrinsic structure in data is crucial.

Some prominent examples are:

  • Economical/financial analysis
  • Representation of large hierarchies
  • Medical training/assistance
  • Engineering/Physics


  • [Averbuch, 2004]: Michael Averbuch, As you Like It: Tailorable Information Visualization, Database Visualization Research Group, Tufts University, 2004.
  • [Card et al., 1998]: Card, S. and Mackinlay, J. and Shneiderman, B., Readings in Information Visualization: Using Vision to Think, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 1998.
  • [Voigt, 2002]: Robert Voigt, Classification and Definition of Terms, 2002.

External links