Title: Structure-Based Brushes: A Mechanism for Navigating Hierarchically Organized Data and Information Spaces

Authors: Ying-Huey Fua, Matthew O. Ward and Elke A. Rundensteiner

Abstract: Interactive selection is a critical component in exploratory visualization, allowing users to isolate subsets of the displayed information for highlighting, deleting, analysis, or focussed investigation. Brushing, a popular method for implementing the selection process, has traditionally been performed in either screen space or data space. In this paper, we introduce an alternate, and potentially powerful, mode of selection that we term structure-based brushing, for selection in data sets with natural or imposed structure. Our initial implementation has focussed on hierarchically structured data, specifically very large multivariate data sets structured via hierarchical clustering and partitioning algorithms. The structure-based brush allows users to navigate hierarchies by specifying focal extents and level-of-detail on a visual representation of the structure. Proximity-based coloring, which maps similar colors to data that are closely related within the structure, helps convey both structural relationships and anomalies. We describe the design and implementation of our structure-based brushing tool. We also validate its usefulness using two distinct hierarchical visualization techniques, namely hierarchical parallel coordinates and tree-maps. Finally, we discuss relationships between different classes of brushes and identify methods by which structure-based brushing could be extended to alternate data structures.

Keywords: Brushing, hierarchical representation, interactive selection, exploratory data analysis.

Source: IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics. (invited paper selected from IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization), May - June 2000.