Visualization

Vol. 8 No. 5 – May 2010

Visualization

Articles

A Tour through the Visualization Zoo

A survey of powerful visualization techniques, from the obvious to the obscure

A Tour through the Visualization Zoo

A survey of powerful visualization techniques, from the obvious to the obscure

Jeffrey Heer, Michael Bostock, and Vadim Ogievetsky, Stanford University

Thanks to advances in sensing, networking, and data management, our society is producing digital information at an astonishing rate. According to one estimate, in 2010 alone we will generate 1,200 exabytes—60 million times the content of the Library of Congress. Within this deluge of data lies a wealth of valuable information on how we conduct our businesses, governments, and personal lives. To put the information to good use, we must find ways to explore, relate, and communicate the data meaningfully.

The goal of visualization is to aid our understanding of data by leveraging the human visual system's highly tuned ability to see patterns, spot trends, and identify outliers. Well-designed visual representations can replace cognitive calculations with simple perceptual inferences and improve comprehension, memory, and decision making. By making data more accessible and appealing, visual representations may also help engage more diverse audiences in exploration and analysis. The challenge is to create effective and engaging visualizations that are appropriate to the data.

by Jeffrey Heer, Michael Bostock, Vadim Ogievetsky

Securing Elasticity in the Cloud

Elastic computing has great potential, but many security challenges remain.

Securing Elasticity in the Cloud

Elastic computing has great potential, but many security challenges remain.

Dustin Owens, BT Americas

As somewhat of a technology-hype curmudgeon, I was until very recently in the camp that believed cloud computing was not much more than the latest marketing-driven hysteria for an idea that has been around for years. Outsourced IT infrastructure services, aka IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), has been around since at least the 1980s, delivered by the telecommunication companies and major IT outsourcers. Hosted applications, aka PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service), were in vogue in the 1990s in the form of ASPs (application service providers).

Looking at cloud computing through this perspective had me predicting how many more months it would be before the industry came up with another "exciting" technology with which to generate mass confusion and buzz. But... I have recently been enlightened as to the true potential of cloud computing and have become very excited about it, to say the least. This concept, which has generated the most industry hype in years—and which has executives clamoring for availability because of promises of substantial IT cost savings and innovation possibilities—has finally won me over.

by Dustin Owens

Visualizing System Latency

Heat maps are a unique and powerful way to visualize latency data. Explaining the results, however, is an ongoing challenge.

When I/O latency is presented as a visual heat map, some intriguing and beautiful patterns can emerge. These patterns provide insight into how a system is actually performing and what kinds of latency end-user applications experience. Many characteristics seen in these patterns are still not understood, but so far their analysis is revealing systemic behaviors that were previously unknown.

by Brendan Gregg