We are developing visualization techniques for depicting large sets of items and supporting different operations such as intersection and union on those sets. The technique we have developed is called OnSet. It differs from many set visualization techniques in that it explicitly shows the presence or absence of each unique data element within each set in the application. The technique employs matrices to represent the sets and each unique element is designated a specific position within each set (matrix). The technique uses brusing to help see presence or absence of specific elements across the different sets and it uses direct manipulation to to help see set unions and intersections. Simply drag one set on top of another to see one of these operations. (Click on the AND/OR label to toggle which operation. AND is intersection and OR is union.)
Our initial application domain for this work is marine biology. More specifically, we have developed a visualization technique to help marine biologists explore blood samples taken from whale sharks and the different bio-chemical compounds the samples contain. Whale sharks are the largest species of fish, growing to a length of up to 13 meters. They are on the list of vulnerable species and, as a result, marine biologists closely monitor their population and wellbeing.
We have been able to procure the blood sample data for whale sharks that were or are currently resident at the Georgia Aquarium. Each blood sample consists of all the biochemical compounds that were detected as present in the sample. Every sample contains between 150 and 300 compounds, with a total of about 1100 distinct compounds throughout all of the data. Thus, the data consist of long lists of chemical names for each sample.
The visualization technique models each sample as a set that may or may not contain the individual compounds (set elements). Biologists can use the visualization to compare samples across days or weeks, find anomalies and trends resulting from diet, and thus gain better insights into the health of the fish.
This research is supported by NSF Award IIS-1320537 (CGV: Small: Creating Information Visualizations without Programming) and the Georgia Aquarium.
Access the OnSet system (includes whale shark and senate voting datasets and allows upload of new data).