Glyphs-based visualization: Opportunities and Challenges

Multivariate data visualization (MDV) is a common requirement across different disciplines, from the sciences to the social sciences, from engineering to arts and humanities, and from media to industry.

In this tutorial we will introduce glyph-based visualization, a form of MDV featuring some unique advantages with respect to other solutions. Glyph-based visualization is a common form of visual representation, where glyphs are used to encode information graphically. In a broad interpretation, a glyph is a small visual object that can be used independently and constructively to depict attributes of a data record or the composition of a set of data records.

Crucial to glyphs effectiveness as a visual encoding is design. Well-designed glyphs can facilitate effective visual search and pattern identification, and are intuitive to learn and use. Meanwhile, constraints such as spatial resolution and prominence of features, limit the bandwidth capacities of the visual channels that can be leveraged for design purposes.

We will be looking at successful deployment of glyph designs to visually encode rich set of information from domains such as sports visualization, literature and media. We will also look at the costs of designing a full glyph set, and the demands for familiarization and memorization inherent to the deployment of this technique. Time permitting, we will experiment with some hands-on glyphs design for real case scenarios.

We hope attendees will leave with a feeling of how glyphs intrinsic expressive power makes this visual encoding a worthy candidate to address many of the challenges imposed by the need to encode large volumes of information without saturating the communication channels.

Organizer: Rita Borgo (King’s College London)