In many aspects of our modern lives we face the problem of having to make sense of large amounts of data. This applies to scientists trying to make sense of their experiments and simulations, to bankers and traders trying to understand the dynamics of the financial markets, and to large enterprises which need to understand the principles behind demand and supply—to name just a few examples. The basic problem in all these cases is that people need to identify important and/or unexpected features in large simulated or captured datasets. Visualization is the domain that facilitates this process of sense-making by dramatically simplifying the process of obtaining an understanding of the data—by representing data visually and thus amplifying people’s cognition. This inherent capability of (good) visualization techniques to amplify human cognition, however, is no longer enough to be able to make sense of today’s huge datasets. To be able to see the essential aspects we need dedicated mechanisms that abstract away the (unnecessary) detail to, in turn, allow the user of the visualization to focus on the important elements. The crucial problem in this context is that it is impossible to know what is important and what is not in a general way—importance changes based on the research question, on the application domain, on the data size, on the user, on the specific situation, etc. Visualization technology therefore needs to support dynamic change of visual abstraction of the data to reflect these contextual changes. The fundamental research challenge in visualization for us is to get an understanding of what (visual) abstraction really is, what it means, how it can be controlled, and how it is, can be, and should be used in visualization.


  • FWF I 2953-N31

Research Areas

  • In this research area, we develop rendering methods that are inspired by scientific illustrations, in order to make complex biological information more intuitive to understand and more pleasant to read.
  • In this research area, we develop new visualization techniques to support biologists in data analysis and create visualizations to disseminate scientific discoveries in biology.


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