Data Visualization

William James Hall, Harvard University

Tuesday 01/13/2015, WH1305, 10am-5pm

Karthik Dinakar

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The purpose of this workshop is to help you create visualizations for effective communication of statistical clinical science research. We will talk about the value of data visualizations and techniques to design and evaluate them. We will also explore the power and weight of narratives in communicating the core tenets of complex clinical research datasets and findings. Finally, we will use a WYSIWYG software package and practice creating some visualizations.




  • Humans + computation in the loop
  • External representation and perception
  • Interactivity
  • Idiom design space
  • Tasks
  • Evaluation & effectiveness

Data Abstraction

  • Data types
  • Dataset types
  • Attributes
  • Semantics

Task Abstraction

  • Contextual Inquiry/Design
  • Actions
  • Targets
  • Analyzing and Deriving ✓


  • Four levels of design
  • Validation Approches
  • Examples

Concepts & Techniques


Tables & Trees

  • Arrange by keys
  • Arrange by values
  • Separate, Order, and Align
  • Spatial Axis Orientation
  • Spatial Layout Density

Color channels

  • Color theory
  • Colormaps
  • Other Channels


  • View Manipulation
  • Navigation
  • Highlighting
  • Filtering & Sorting
  • Extraction of data


  • Target-driven narratives
  • Visual Design, Messaging, Interactivity
  • Guide, highlight, interpret

Example design & critique


In this exercise, we will use a WYSIWYG free visualization tool to visualize a dataset step-by-step and by so doing get an introduction to the tool istself. We will then critique the visualization that was built.

Visualization Exercise


We will form teams with two participants per team. Each team will create visualization for a unique dataset using some of the concepts covered in the aforementioned sessions. We will reassemble at 4:40pm


Edward Tufte
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information Book
Tamara Munzner
Visualization Analysis and Design Book
Miriah Meyer
Visualization expert at University of UtahResearch group
Jeffrey Heer
Interactive Data Lab at UW (formerly Stanford) Research group

Generated from a haughty shell script 01/07/2015 09:09