Information Visualisation - Obtaining Knowledge from Data

Yue, Betty Y S b.yue at
Wed Aug 20 10:49:58 EST 2003

I would be most grateful if you could please forward this information to
colleagues who may be of interest.
With many thanks,
Centre for Professional Development 
Imperial College London

Information Visualisation - Obtaining Knowledge from Data

A rapid and radical change has occurred in the way that many professionals -
and especially those concerned with bioinformatics and the general
pharmaceutical industry  - have acquired insight into the data under their
control. This remarkable change, which happened over the last decade, has
been made possible by a technique known as information visualization whose
basis is very simple.  Data (often numerical) is converted to a picture, but
a picture which is capable of interactive exploration so that the data can
be viewed from different perspectives.  Such exploration - requiring no
computer expertise - typically leads to the discovery of interesting - and
often commercially exploitable - relations previously 'hidden' within a mass
of data. No statistical expertise is called for: information visualization
merely exploits the visual skills we all possess and the user's knowledge of
their subject.

Almost nowhere is the potential of information visualization more cost
effective than in the pharmaceutical industry.  Its research, for example,
generates vast amounts of data that must be interpreted effectively to
result in rapid decisions in the pharmaceutical pipeline; substantial
financial savings can accrue if that interpretation can lead to an earlier
termination of the development of a particular drug.  Also, published
documentation has mushroomed to the extent that information visualization
techniques are required to allow easy and effective search.  Not only in the
pharmaceutical industry but in many and varied professions ranging from
fraud detection to online shopping quite remarkable results have been
achieved through the use of user-friendly software tools that bring the
advantages of information visualization to the user. In all cases, the risk
of a data warehouse becoming a 'data cemetery' has been reduced by the use
of information visualization.

Information Visualization is the topic of a one-day course organised by
Imperial College London, and includes a case study discussing the
development of 
discovery processes in bioinformatics.  Further information is available at

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