Thursday, April 25, 2013

Summary of Findings (Green Team): Visual Analytics (4 out of 5 Stars)

Visual Analytics
Green Team
Rating (4 out of 5 Stars)

Note: This post represents the synthesis of the thoughts, procedures and experiences of others as represented in the 8 articles read in advance (see previous posts) and the discussion among the students and instructor during the Advanced Analytic Techniques class at Mercyhurst University in April 2013 regarding Visual Analytics specifically. This technique was evaluated based on its overall validity, simplicity, flexibility and its ability to effectively use unstructured data.

Visual analytics is a collection of modifiers and methods used to improve the analysis of information, as well as representation to increase the effectiveness of the decision making process. Both qualitative and quantitative information is depicted through the modifiers and methods.  The visual representation of the information should increase comprehension of the material in addition to appealing to the viewer’s aesthetics.  

  • Decreases the level of ambiguity in conveying information
  • Supports people who are visually oriented
  • Gains interest of the decision maker much more than a written element
  • Has the potential to increase analytic confidence

  • Not everything has the possibility of integrating a visual component
  • Visual analytic products can introduce bias into an analysis
  • Not necessarily intuitive to an outside party, especially since there is a different level of input between those that created the visuals and those the information is being presented to
  • Does not support people who are not visually oriented
  1. Find a topic that is capable of having some kind of visual component
  2. Compare and contrast various ways in which a visual component can be integrated (ex: graphs, charts, information arranged in a particular fashion, etc.)
  3. Select the visual component that you feel best communicates the idea while being mindful of who the consumer is or decision maker the visual component is geared towards

Personal Application of Technique:
A written description of the dimensions of the container were provided to individuals.  The class was asked to estimate the number of jelly-beans that were in the container along with recording their level of confidence in that estimate.  In the next stage, a static image of the container filled with jelly-beans was presented to the individuals.  A dime was used to provide a size comparison to the image of the container with the jelly-beans.  Following another estimate and confidence level, the individuals were given the container with the jelly-beans to hold and look at in a three-dimensional manner.  The participants were then asked to give another estimate and confidence level.

The introduction of visual and tangible elements to the estimate generally increased the level of confidence in three of the five participants. One participant raised their confidence only after being presented with the three-dimensional, interactive visual aid. The other two raised their confidence level after the introduction of the 2D, static image. All participants changed their estimates each time a visual was presented, getting closer to the actual number. Some changed drastically (originally estimating 900+, then decreasing the estimate to 350, actually 353), while others remained in the same ballpark but improved their estimate.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

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