Visual Computing

University of Konstanz
IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics

Line Graph or Scatter Plot? Automatic Selection of Methods for Visualizing Trends in Time Series

Y. Wang, F. Han, L. Zhu, O. Deussen, B. Chen

Abstract

Line graphs are usually considered to be the best choice for visualizing time series data, whereas sometimes also scatter plots are used for showing main trends. So far there are no guidelines that indicate which of these visualization methods better display trends in time series for a given canvas. Assuming that the main information in a time series is its overall trend, we propose an algorithm that automatically picks the visualization method that reveals this trend best. This is achieved by measuring the visual consistency between the trend curve represented by a LOESS fit and the trend described by a scatter plot or a line graph. To measure the consistency between our algorithm and user choices, we performed an empirical study with a series of controlled experiments that show a large correspondence. In a factor analysis we furthermore demonstrate that various visual and data factors have effects on the preference for a certain type of visualization.

BibTeX

@article{Wang2017LineGraphScatter,
  author     = {Y. Wang and F. Han and L. Zhu and O. Deussen and B. Chen},
  doi        = {10.1109/TVCG.2017.2653106},
  issn       = {1077-2626},
  journal    = {IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics},
  keywords   = {Bandwidth;Data visualization;Estimation;Kernel;Market research;Time series analysis;Visualization;Line graph;scatter plot;time series;trend},
  number     = {99},
  pages      = {1-1},
  title      = {Line Graph or Scatter Plot? Automatic Selection of Methods for Visualizing Trends in Time Series},
  volume     = {PP},
  year       = {2017},
}

Supplemental Material

Paper (.pdf, 10.8 MB)