In the words of R.W. Hamming, founder of the ACM: “The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.” This has certainly been the driving force for most visualization systems and tools to date, which focus on exploring data, confirming hypotheses, and discovering the unknown. However, these systems typically have complex designs that are unintuitive and cumbersome for non-expert users. On the other hand, visualizations are more and more being used to communicate data and messages to a general audience. But visualization tools for communication are still in their infancy and do not address the cognitive aspects of storytelling.
In this talk I will reexamine the role of visualization beyond data exploration. My thesis is that we have only just scratched the surface of what is there, and that the future depends on developing different models and technologies that take the human perspective into account. Through the use of concrete examples from our own work I hope to illustrate the depth of the true potential of this emerging medium, and I will point to opportunities and speculate of how we might realize them.
An Wang Professor of Computer Science
Director, Institute for Applied Computational Science
Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Hanspeter Pfister is the An Wang Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, director of the Institute for Applied Computational Science, and an affiliate faculty member of the Center for Brain Science. His research in visual computing lies at the intersection of visualization, computer graphics, and computer vision and spans a wide range of topics, including biomedical visualization, image and video analysis, 3D fabrication, and visual analytics in data science. Before joining Harvard, he worked for over a decade at Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories, where he was associate director and senior research scientist. He was the chief architect of VolumePro, Mitsubishi Electric’s award-winning real-time volume rendering graphics card, for which he received the Mitsubishi Electric President’s Award in 2000. Pfister is the recipient of the 2010 IEEE Visualization Technical Achievement Award, the 2009 IEEE Meritorious Service Award, and the 2009 Petra T. Shattuck Excellence in Teaching Award. Pfister was elected as chair and is currently a director of the IEEE Visualization and Graphics Technical Committee. Pfister has a PhD in computer science from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and an MS in electrical engineering from ETH Zurich, Switzerland.