Northwestern CS to Have Strong Turnout at IEEE VIS

Jessica Hullman, Matthew Kay, and Steven Franconeri will participate in the event, which will be a forum for advances in theory, methods, and applications of visualization and visual analytics

Northwestern Engineering’s Department of Computer Science will have a strong presence at the IEEE Visualization 2021 conference, held virtually from October 24-29.

Associate professor of computer science Jessica Hullman, assistant professor of computer science Matthew Kay, and computer science adjunct professor Steven Franconeri will be present at the event, which will be a forum for advances in theory, methods, and applications of visualization and visual analytics. With more than 1,000 attendees expected, the conference will convene an international community of researchers and practitioners from universities, government, and industry to exchange recent findings on the design and use of visualization tools.

From left: Jessica Hullman, Matthew Kay, Jason Hartline, Steven Franconeri

“The strong turnout demonstrates Northwestern's strength in this area,” said Hullman, whose work "Visual Reasoning Strategies for Effect Size Judgments and Decisions" along with Kay and PhD student Alex Kale won the conference’s Best Paper Award in 2020.  

This year, Hullman and PhD students from the lab she directs with Kay: Paula Kayongo, Dongping Zhang, Hyeok Kim, Abhraneel Sarma, and Kale will present four papers. The papers are:

  • "Visualization Equilibrium" (with professor of computer science Jason Hartline)
  • "Visualizing Uncertainty in Probabilistic Graphs with Network Hypothetical Outcome Plots (NetHOPs)"
  • "Causal Support: Modeling Causal Inferences with Visualizations"
  • "An Automated Approach to Reasoning About Task-Oriented Insights in Responsive Visualization"

The "Causal Support" paper earned a Best Paper Honorable Mention award, and Hullman is also moderating a panel called “Reflecting on Visualization History to Drive Future Innovation.”

Franconeri, who is also a member of the Design Research Council, director of the Northwestern Cognitive Science Program, director of the Visual Thinking Laboratory, and professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, is slated to present five:

  • "Rethinking the Ranks of Visual Channels" 
  • "The Unmet Data Visualization Needs of Decision Makers within Organizations" 
  • "Declutter and Focus: Empirically Evaluating Design Guidelines for Effective Data Communication" 
  • "Visual Arrangements of Bar Charts Influence Comparisons in Viewer Takeaways"
  • "Jurassic Mark: Inattentional Blindness for a Datasaurus Reveals that Visualizations are Explored, not Seen"

"Jurassic Mark" has been named one of the Best Short Papers of the conference, and "Rethinking the Ranks of Visual Channels" has been awarded Best Paper Honorable Mention. Franconeri will participate in a keynote event for the Visualization for Communication workshop, together with Scientific American graphics editor Jen Christiansen, on building bridges between research and practice.

Kay is chairing a session titled "Uncertainty." Northwestern postdoc Alireza Karduni, who works with Hullman, Kay, and Franconeri, will also present two papers.

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