Definitions, History, and Goals of Visualization: Overview


Various Flavors of "Visualization":

Definitions of Visualization


"to form a mental vision, image, or picture of (something not visible or present to sight, or of an abstraction); to make visible to the mind or imagination"
[The Oxford English Dictionary, 1989]

Scientific Visualization/Example Definitions

"Visualization is a method of computing. It transforms the symbolic into the geometric, enabling researchers to observe their simulations and computations. Visualization offers a method for seeing the unseen. It enriches the process of scientific discovery and fosters profound and unexpected insights. In many fields it is already revolutionizing the way scientists do science." [MCC87]

"Scientific visualization is a new, exciting field of computational science spurred on in large measure by the rapid growth in computer technology, particular in graphics workstation hardware and computer graphics software. [Visualization tools] are beginning to impact our daily lives through usage in the arts, particularly film animation, and they hold great promise for scientific research and education. When computer graphics is applied to scientific data for purposes of gaining insight, testing hypothesis, and general elucidation, we speak of scientific visualization." [ARE94]

"A useful definition of visualization might be the binding (or mapping) of data to a representation that can be perceived. The types of binding could be visual, auditory, tactile, etc. or a combination of these." [FOL94]

"Visualization is more than a method of computing. Visualization is the process of transforming information into a visual form, enabling users to observe the information. The resulting visual display enables the scientist or engineer to perceive visually features which are hidden in the data but nevertheless are needed for data exploration and analysis." [GER94]

"Visualization is analytic graphics". Carol Hunter, LLNL [WWW1]

Scientific Visualization/Synthesis of Definitions

Mapping from computer representations to perceptual (visual) representations, choosing encoding techniques to maximize human understanding and communication

Scientific Visualization/Goals

Visualization and adjacent disciplines

Computer Graphics: Efficiency of algorithms (CG) versus effectiveness of use (V).

Computer Vision: Mapping from pictures to abstract description (CV) versus mapping from abstract description to pictures (V).

Image Processing: Mapping from data domain to data domain (IP) versus mapping from data domain to picture domain (V).

(Visual) Perception: General and scientific explanation of human abilities and limitations (VP) versus goal oriented use of visual perception in complex information presentation.

Art and Design: Aesthetics and style (AD) versus expressiveness and effectiveness (V).

Scientific Visualization/History

Need and opportunity

=> NSF Committee to solve problems

Committee on "Graphics, Image Processing, and Workstations" (1986)

Goal of committee

Result of committee

Solidifying goals

Key Publication: [MCC87]

Definitions, History, and Goals of Visualization
HyperVis Table of Contents

Last modified on March 29, 1999, G. Scott Owen,