Thursday, April 25, 2013

Summary of Findings (White Team): Visual Analytics (4.3 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 broad category of modifiers that refers to the visualization of data in a manner that simplifies the comprehension of data and information and aids in the analysis and communication of results.

1. Provides visuals to identify patterns.
2. Can provide a tangible three-dimensional object to physically hold.
3. Provide an effective way of presenting intelligence to decision makers.
4. Provide more depth to the analytical product through referencing to the visual.
5. Has the potential to provide an interactive means to display the estimate or information.
6. Can display relationships visually that might have been overlooked with the utilization of other methods.  
7. Output can be automated.

1. Can be difficult to make it understandable for the consumer or decision-maker.
2. This modifier is not easily defined.
3. Not as helpful for individuals who do not learn effectively visually.

Step by Step Action:
1. Be aware of your decision-maker’s needs and preferences for the product.
2. Determine which form of a visual is most suited to your product and the decision-maker.
3. Make your visuals simple and easy to understand for the decision-maker.

As a class we were given the question to analyze how many Jelly Belly jelly beans would fill a container 5 inches long, 2 inches tall, and 3 inches wide. We were asked as a class three separate times to estimate how many jelly beans would fit into the container. Additionally, we had to give an estimate of how confident we were on each estimate from Activities 1-3. Activity 1 an estimate was made just based on knowing the size of the container and how one perceives the relative size of a Jelly Belly jelly bean. Activity 2 an estimate was made by viewing a picture of the jelly beans in the container. Activity 3 an estimate was calculated by holding the actual container filled with the jelly beans.  

The results as a class were interesting to see how each individual determined their analysis. For some of the class, viewing the container in two different levels of visualization forms increased their level of confidence on their estimate. For other participants in the class their level of confidence in their estimates did not change during each of the activities, but their estimates changed when more visuals were presented. Moreover, it was interesting to see during the first activity many participants in the class tried to draw out the probable size of the container or tried to visualize the size of the container with their hands to make their estimate.

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