Faculty Advisor

E. A. Rundensteiner

Faculty Advisor

M. O. Ward

Faculty Advisor

D. Brown


Traditional visualization techniques for multidimensional data sets, such as parallel coordinates, star glyphs, and scatterplot matrices, do not scale well to high dimensional data sets. A common approach to solve this problem is dimensionality reduction. Existing dimensionality reduction techniques, such as Principal Component Analysis, Multidimensional Scaling, and Self Organizing Maps, have serious drawbacks in that the generated low dimensional subspace has no intuitive meaning to users. In addition, little user interaction is allowed in those highly automatic processes. In this thesis, we propose a new methodology to dimensionality reduction that combines automation and user interaction for the generation of meaningful subspaces, called the visual hierarchical dimension reduction (VHDR) framework. Firstly, VHDR groups all dimensions of a data set into a dimension hierarchy. This hierarchy is then visualized using a radial space-filling hierarchy visualization tool called Sunburst. Thus users are allowed to interactively explore and modify the dimension hierarchy, and select clusters at different levels of detail for the data display. VHDR then assigns a representative dimension to each dimension cluster selected by the users. Finally, VHDR maps the high-dimensional data set into the subspace composed of these representative dimensions and displays the projected subspace. To accomplish the latter, we have designed several extensions to existing popular multidimensional display techniques, such as parallel coordinates, star glyphs, and scatterplot matrices. These displays have been enhanced to express semantics of the selected subspace, such as the context of the dimensions and dissimilarity among the individual dimensions in a cluster. We have implemented all these features and incorporated them into the XmdvTool software package, which will be released as XmdvTool Version 6.0. Lastly, we developed two case studies to show how we apply VHDR to visualize and interactively explore a high dimensional data set.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Computer Science

Project Type


Date Accepted





hierarchy, sunburst, dimension reduction, high dimensional data set, multidimensional visualization, parallel coordinates, scatterplot matrices, star glyphs