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Proceedings Paper

A typology for visualizing uncertainty
Author(s): Judi Thomson; Elizabeth Hetzler; Alan MacEachren; Mark Gahegan; Misha Pavel
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Paper Abstract

Information analysts must rapidly assess information to determine its usefulness in supporting and informing decision makers. In addition to assessing the content, the analyst must be confident about the quality and veracity of the information. Visualizations can concisely represent vast quantities of information, thus aiding the analyst to examine larger quantities of material; however, visualization programs are challenged to incorporate a notion of confidence or certainty because the factors that influence the certainty or uncertainty of information vary with the type of information and the type of decisions being made. For example, the assessment of potentially subjective human-reported data leads to a large set of uncertainty concerns in fields such as national security, law enforcement (witness reports), and even scientific analysis where data is collected from a variety of individual observers. What’s needed is a formal model or framework for describing uncertainty as it relates to information analysis, to provide a consistent basis for constructing visualizations of uncertainty. This paper proposes an expanded typology for uncertainty, drawing from past frameworks targeted at scientific computing. The typology provides general categories for analytic uncertainty, a framework for creating task-specific refinements to those categories, and examples drawn from the national security field.

Paper Details

Date Published: 11 March 2005
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 5669, Visualization and Data Analysis 2005, (11 March 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.587254
Show Author Affiliations
Judi Thomson, Battelle Memorial Institute (United States)
Elizabeth Hetzler, Battelle Memorial Institute (United States)
Alan MacEachren, The Pennsylvania State Univ. (United States)
Mark Gahegan, The Pennsylvania State Univ. (United States)
Misha Pavel, Oregon Health and Sciences Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5669:
Visualization and Data Analysis 2005
Robert F. Erbacher; Jonathan C. Roberts; Matti T. Grohn; Katy Borner, Editor(s)

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