Faculty Advisor

Elke A. Rundensteiner

Faculty Advisor

Robert W. Lindeman

Faculty Advisor

Matthew O. Ward

Faculty Advisor

Martin Wattenberg



More and more researchers are focusing on the management, querying and pattern mining of streaming data. The visualization of streaming data, however, is still a very new topic. Streaming data is very similar to time-series data since each datapoint has a time dimension. Although the latter has been well studied in the area of information visualization, a key characteristic of streaming data, unbounded and large-scale input, is rarely investigated. Moreover, most techniques for visualizing time-series data focus on univariate data and seldom convey multidimensional relationships, which is an important requirement in many application areas. Therefore, it is necessary to develop appropriate techniques for streaming data instead of directly applying time-series visualization techniques to it.

As one of the main contributions of this dissertation, I introduce a user-driven approach for the visual analytics of multivariate data streams based on effective visualizations via a combination of windowing and sampling strategies. To help users identify and track how data patterns change over time, not only the current sliding window content but also abstractions of past data in which users are interested are displayed. Sampling is applied within each single time window to help reduce visual clutter as well as preserve data patterns. Sampling ratios scheduled for different windows reflect the degree of user interest in the content. A degree of interest (DOI) function is used to represent a user's interest in different windows of the data. Users can apply two types of pre-defined DOI functions, namely RC (recent change) and PP (periodic phenomena) functions. The developed tool also allows users to interactively adjust DOI functions, in a manner similar to transfer functions in volume visualization, to enable a trial-and-error exploration process. In order to visually convey the change of multidimensional correlations, four layout strategies were designed. User studies showed that three of these are effective techniques for conveying data pattern changes compared to traditional time-series data visualization techniques. Based on this evaluation, a guide for the selection of appropriate layout strategies was derived, considering the characteristics of the targeted datasets and data analysis tasks. Case studies were used to show the effectiveness of DOI functions and the various visualization techniques.

A second contribution of this dissertation is a data-driven framework to merge and thus condense time windows having small or no changes and distort the time axis. Only significant changes are shown to users. Pattern vectors are introduced as a compact format for representing the discovered data model. Three views, juxtaposed views, pattern vector views, and pattern change views, were developed for conveying data pattern changes. The first shows more details of the data but needs more canvas space; the last two need much less canvas space via conveying only the pattern parameters, but lose many data details. The experiments showed that the proposed merge algorithms preserves more change information than an intuitive pattern-blind averaging. A user study was also conducted to confirm that the proposed techniques can help users find pattern changes more quickly than via a non-distorted time axis.

A third contribution of this dissertation is the history views with related interaction techniques were developed to work under two modes: non-merge and merge. In the former mode, the framework can use natural hierarchical time units or one defined by domain experts to represent timelines. This can help users navigate across long time periods. Grid or virtual calendar views were designed to provide a compact overview for the history data. In addition, MDS pattern starfields, distance maps, and pattern brushes were developed to enable users to quickly investigate the degree of pattern similarity among different time periods. For the merge mode, merge algorithms were applied to selected time windows to generate a merge-based hierarchy. The contiguous time windows having similar patterns are merged first. Users can choose different levels of merging with the tradeoff between more details in the data and less visual clutter in the visualizations. The usability evaluation demonstrated that most participants could understand the concepts of the history views correctly and finished assigned tasks with a high accuracy and relatively fast response time. "


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Computer Science

Project Type


Date Accepted





Multivariate Data Visualization, Streaming Data Visualization, Time-series Data Visualization, Data streams