Information Visualization

Information Visualization

Perception for Design

3rd Edition - May 18, 2012

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  • Author: Colin Ware
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123814654

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Most designers know that yellow text presented against a blue background reads clearly and easily, but how many can explain why, and what really are the best ways to help others and ourselves clearly see key patterns in a bunch of data? When we use software, access a website, or view business or scientific graphics, our understanding is greatly enhanced or impeded by the way the information is presented. This book explores the art and science of why we see objects the way we do. Based on the science of perception and vision, the author presents the key principles at work for a wide range of applications--resulting in visualization of improved clarity, utility, and persuasiveness. The book offers practical guidelines that can be applied by anyone: interaction designers, graphic designers of all kinds (including web designers), data miners, and financial analysts.

Key Features

  • Complete update of the recognized source in industry, research, and academic for applicable guidance on information visualizing
  • Includes the latest research and state of the art information on multimedia presentation
  • More than 160 explicit design guidelines based on vision science
  • A new final chapter that explains the process of visual thinking and how visualizations help us to think about problems
  • Packed with over 400 informative full color illustrations, which are key to understanding of the subject


Professionals in user interface/user interaction designer; computer graphics, including those who are the techie type as well as those who are graphics designers; financial analysts; research scientists and engineers; data miners; and managers faced with information-intensive challenges

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One. Foundations for an Applied Science of Data Visualization

    Visualization Stages

    Experimental Semiotics Based on Perception

    Semiotics of Graphics

    Sensory versus Arbitrary Symbols

    Gibson’s Affordance Theory

    A Model of Perceptual Processing

    Costs and Benefits of Visualization

    Types of Data



    Chapter Two. The Environment, Optics, Resolution, and the Display

    The Environment

    The Eye

    The Optimal Display


    Chapter Three. Lightness, Brightness, Contrast, and Constancy

    Neurons, Receptive Fields, and Brightness Illusions

    Luminance, Brightness, Lightness, and Gamma

    Perception of Surface Lightness

    Monitor Illumination and Monitor Surrounds


    Chapter Four. Color

    Trichromacy Theory

    Color Measurement

    Opponent Process Theory

    Properties of Color Channels

    Color Appearance

    Applications of Color in Visualization

    Application 1: Color Specification Interfaces and Color Spaces

    Application 2: Color for Labeling (Nominal Codes)

    Application 3: Color Sequences for Data Maps

    Application 4: Color Reproduction


    Chapter Five. Visual Salience and Finding Information

    Eye Movements

    V1, Channels, and Tuned Receptors

    Preattentive Processing and Ease of Search

    Integral and Separable Dimensions: Glyph Design

    Representing Quantity

    The Searchlight Metaphor and Cortical Magnification


    Chapter Six. Static and Moving Patterns

    Gestalt Laws

    Texture: Theory and Data Mapping

    Perception of Transparency: Overlapping Data

    Perceiving Patterns in Multidimensional Discrete Data

    Pattern Learning

    The Visual Grammar of Node–Link Diagrams

    The Visual Grammar of Maps

    Patterns in Motion

    Perception of Animated Motion

    The Processes of Pattern Finding

    Chapter Seven. Space Perception

    Depth Cue Theory

    Depth Cues in Combination

    Task-Based Space Perception

    Tracing Data Paths in 3D Graphs

    Judging the Morphology of Surfaces

    Patterns of Points in 3D Space

    Perceiving Patterns in 3D Trajectories

    Judging Relative Positions of Objects in Space

    Judging the Relative Movements of Self within the Environment

    Selecting and Positioning Objects in 3D

    Judging the “Up” Direction

    The Aesthetic Impression of 3D Space (Presence)


    Chapter Eight. Visual Objects and Data Objects

    Image-Based Object Recognition

    Structure-Based Object Recognition

    The Object Display and Object-Based Diagrams


    Coding Words and Images

    Labels and Concepts

    Concept Mapping

    Iconic Images versus Words versus Abstract Symbols

    Scenes and Scene Gist


    Chapter Nine. Images, Narrative, and Gestures for Explanation

    The Nature of Language

    Integrating Visual and Verbal and the Narrative Thread

    Animated versus Static Presentations

    Visual Narrative


    Chapter Ten. Interacting with Visualizations

    Data Selection and Manipulation Loop

    Exploration and Navigation Loop

    Focus, Context, and Scale in Nonmetaphoric Interfaces


    Chapter Eleven. Visual Thinking Processes

    The Cognitive System

    Memory and Attention

    Long-Term Memory

    Knowledge Formation and Creative Thinking

    Visualizations and Mental Images

    Review of Visual Cognitive System Components

    Visual Thinking Algorithms

    Algorithm 1: Visual Queries

    Algorithm 2: Pathfinding on a Map or Diagram

    Algorithm 3: Reasoning with a Hybrid of a Visual Display and Mental Imagery

    Algorithm 4: Design Sketching

    Algorithm 5: Brushing

    Algorithm 6: Small Pattern Comparisons in a Large Information Space

    Algorithm 7: Degree-of-Relevance Highlighting

    Algorithm 8: Generalized Fisheye Views

    Algorithm 9: Multidimensional Dynamic Queries with Scatter Plot

    Algorithm 10: Visual Monitoring Strategies


    APPENDIX A. Changing Primaries

    APPENDIX B. CIE Color Measurement System

    APPENDIX C. The Perceptual Evaluation of Visualization Techniques and Systems

    Research Goals


    Cognitive Psychology

    Structural Analysis

    Statistical Exploration

    Cross-Cultural Studies

    Child Studies

    Practical Problems in Conducting User Studies

    APPENDIX D. Guidelines

Product details

  • No. of pages: 536
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Morgan Kaufmann 2012
  • Published: May 18, 2012
  • Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123814654

About the Author

Colin Ware

Colin Ware is the world’s leading authority on the perceptual principles underlying the effective design of information displays. He combines interests in both basic and applied visualization research and he has advanced degrees in both computer science (MMath, Waterloo) and in the psychology of perception (PhD,Toronto). He has published over 160 articles in scientific and technical journals and at leading conferences. Many of these articles relate to the use of color, texture, motion and 3D displays in information visualization. His approach is always to combine theory with practice and his publications range from rigorously scientific contributions to the Journal of Physiology and Vision Research to applications oriented articles in ACM Transactions on Graphics and ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction. Fledermaus, the leading visualization software used in oceanography, originated in software developed by him and his graduate students.

Affiliations and Expertise

Data Visualization Research Lab, University of New Hampshire, Durham, USA

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