Publications / Report

Visualization of Information Spaces with VxInsight

Wylie, Brian N.; Boyack, Kevin W.; Davidson, George S.

VxInsight provides a visual mechanism for browsing, exploring and retrieving information from a database. The graphical display conveys information about the relationship between objects in several ways and on multiple scales. In this way, individual objects are always observed within a larger context. For example, consider a database consisting of a set of scientific papers. Imagine that the papers have been organized in a two dimensional geometry so that related papers are located close to each other. Now construct a landscape where the altitude reflects the local density of papers. Papers on physics will form a mountain range, and a different range will stand over the biological papers. In between will be research reports from biophysics and other bridging disciplines. Now, imagine exploring these mountains. If we zoom in closer, the physics mountains will resolve into a set of sub-disciplines. Eventually, by zooming in far enough, the individual papers become visible. By pointing and clicking you can learn more about papers of interest or retrieve their full text. Although physical proximity conveys a great deal of information about the relationship between documents, you can also see which papers reference which others, by drawing lines between the citing and cited papers. For even more information, you can choose to highlight papers by a particular researcher or a particular institution, or show the accumulation of papers through time, watching some disciplines explode and other stagnate. VxInsight is a general purpose tool, which enables this kind of interaction with wide variety of relational data: documents, patents, web pages, and financial transactions are just a few examples. The tool allows users to interactively browse, explore and retrieve information from the database in an intuitive way.