Niklas Elmqvist, Ph.D.

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My research deals primarily with the areas of information visualizationand human-computer interaction. More specifically, my focus is on visualization for intelligence amplification: using visual tools for improving the perceptive, cognitive, and analytical capabilities of people to allow them to solve tasks that were previously too large or too complex. Humans have used technology to improve their capabilities and overcome their limitations since the beginning of time. Computers and interactive graphics are but tools in a long line of tools, but their potential for supporting the human in processing information is unparallelled.

In this section I give a general introduction to some of the major themes of my work, including a list of example projects. Please see my projects page for a complete list of my research projects.

Human-Computer Interaction


Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is the overall research area where my work is done, and is concerned with the thin layer between man and machine. The HCI field as a whole is truly huge and is still expanding---we have still to see its frontiers, and, as anyone who has used a computer recently can attest to, there is still a lot of work to be done. Beyond my exploration into visualization and visual analytics, I am also interested in intelligent environments, 3D interaction, and tangible interfaces (TUIs).

Example projects: Melange, HCI@Play, semantic 3D pointing.

Information Visualization

The DataMeadow visual analytics environment

Visualization is the art and science of graphically representing data on a computer for the purpose of amplifying cognition in the human user. A specialization of the field, information visualization deals with abstract data. Because the data is abstract, the choice of visual representation is left to the visualization designer. My research in this field deals with many different aspects: causality and software visualization, hypervariate visualization, and the use of metaphors for selecting suitable visual representations.

I am intrigued by the notion of amplifying intelligence using visualization---thus, a future goal of my research is to develop general techniques for augmenting our cognitive, perceptive, and analytical capabilities as humans to take us beyond our current limitations.

Example projects: ZAME, DataMeadow, causality visualization.

Visual Analytics

The ScatterDice

The field of visual analytics strives to combine visualization and highly interactive visual interfaces with automatic analysis tools and processes such as cluster analysis, data mining, and statistical analysis. In this way, it enables human analysts to guide and control the automatic algorithms, leveraging the strengths of both the human and the computer while making up for their respective weaknesses. Because of this, the application areas of include virtually any domain that involves the analysis of large-scale and complex datasets.

Example projects: ScatterDice, DataMeadow, ZAME.