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A widevariety of digital tools have been designed to help users visuallyexplore data sets and confirm or disconfirm hypotheses about the data.The task in this assignment is to use an existing software tool(Tableau) to formulate and answer a series of specific questions about adata set of your choice. After answering the questions you shouldcreate a final visualization that is designed to present the answer toyour question to others. You should maintain a notebook that documentsall the questions you asked and the steps you performed from start tofinish. The goal of this assignment is not to develop a newvisualization tool, but to understand better the process of exploringdata using an off-the-shelf visualization tool. Documenting thedata analysis process you went through is the main pedagogical goal ofthe assignment and more important than the design of the finalvisualization.Here is one way to start.Step 1. Pick a domain that you are interested in.Somegood possibilities might be the physical properties of chemicalelements, the types of stars, or the human genome. Feel free to use anexample from your own research, but do not pick an example that youalready have created visualizations for.Step 2. Pose an initial question that you would like to answer.Forexample: Is there a relationship between melting point and atomicnumber? Are the brightness and color of stars correlated? Are theredifferent patterns of nucleotides in different regions in human DNA?Step 3. Assess the fitness of the data for answering your question.Inspectthe data – it is invariably helpful to first look at the raw values.Does the data seem appropriate for answering your question? If not, youmay need to start the process over. If so, does the data need to bereformatted or cleaned prior to analysis? Perform any steps necessary toget the data into shape prior to visual analysis.You will need to iterate through these steps a few times. It may bechallenging to find interesting questions and a dataset that has theinformation that you need to answer those questions. You may need to tryseveral datasets.Exploratory Analysis ProcessAfter you have an initial question and a dataset, construct avisualization that provides an answer to your question. As you constructthe visualization you will find that your question evolves – often itwill become more specific. Keep track of his evolution and the otherquestions that occur to you along the way. Once you have answered allthe questions to your satisfaction, think of a way to present the dataand the answers as clearly as possible. In this assignment, you shoulduse an existing visualization software tool (Tableau). You may find itbeneficial to use more than one tool.Before starting, write down the initial question clearly. And, as yougo, maintain a notebook (e.g. a Google or Word document) of what youhad to do to construct the visualizations and how the questions evolved.Include in the notebook where you got the data, and documentation aboutthe format of the dataset. Describe any transformations orrearrangements of the dataset that you needed to perform; in particular,describe how you got the data into the format needed by thevisualization system. Keep copies of any intermediate visualizationsthat helped you refine your question. After you have constructed thefinal visualization for presenting your answer, write a caption and aparagraph describing the visualization, and how it answers the questionyou posed. Think of the figure, the caption and the text as material youmight include in a research paper.
Data SetsYou should look for data sets online in convenient formats such asExcel or a CSV file. The web contains a lot of raw data. In some casesyou will need to convert the data to a format you can use. Formatconversion is a big part of visualization research so it is worthlearning techniques for doing such conversions. Although it is best tofind a data set you are especially interested in, here are pointers to afew datasets:Awesome Public Datasets (https://github.com/awesomedata/awesome-public-datasets)Data is Plural (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wZhPLMCHKJvwOkP4juclhjFgqIY8fQFMemwKL2c64vk/edit#gid=0)Visualization SoftwareTo create the visualizations, we will be using Tableau (https://www.tableau.com/), a commercial visualization tool that supports many different ways to interact with the data. Tableau has offers free student licenses (https://www.tableau.com/academic/students)so that you can install the software on your own computer. One goal ofthis assignment is for you to learn to use and evaluate theeffectiveness of Tableau. Please talk to me if you think it won’t bepossible for you to use the tool. In addition to Tableau, you are freeto also use other visualization tools as you see fit.Tableau for Students (https://www.tableau.com/academic/students)GGplot2 (http://had.co.nz/ggplot2/)GGobi (http://ggobi.org/)Improvise (https://www.cs.ou.edu/~weaver/improvise/index.html)GradingEach submission will be graded based on both the analysis process and included visualizations. Here are our grading criteria:Exploration Thoroughness (6): Sufficient breadth ofanalysis, exploring questions in sufficient depth (with appropriatefollow-up questions). Appropriate data quality assessment andtransformation.Documentation (6): Clear documentation of exploratory process, including justification for pivots in approach and intermediate visualizations.Final Visualization (3): Clearly designed final visualization communicating final insights with understandable captions and annotations.
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