Duke welcomes Dr. Christopher Collins, April 4-5

Dr. Christopher CollinsOn Thursday, April 4 and Friday, April 5, Duke University will host a visit from Dr. Christopher Collins, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), where he directs The Visualization for Information Analysis lab (vialab). While at Duke, Dr. Collins will give two public presentations and will be available for meetings with groups and individuals. His visit is sponsored by Information Science + Information Studies (ISIS).

Dr. Collins engages in interdisciplinary research, combining information visualization and human-computer interaction with natural language processing to address the challenges of information management and the problems of information overload. His publications, including the DocuBurst document content visualization system, have helped to open a new and thriving area of research in “Linguistic Visualization”. Dr. Collins has been awarded a Discovery Grant from NSERC, providing 5 years of funding for research on “Text and Multimedia Document Visualization”. His research interests include: visualization of natural language data, interaction techniques for information visualization (including multi-touch interaction), scientific visual analytics, and social implications of computing / ethics & philosophy of computing.

Dr. Collins will give the following public presentations:

Humanizing Data:
Enabling Linguistic Insight with Information Visualization

Thursday, April 4, 2013
12:00p.m. to 1:00p.m. (lunch provided)
Smith Warehouse, Bay 4, in the FHI Garage

While linguistic skill is a hallmark of humanity, the increasing volume of linguistic data each of us faces is causing individual and societal problems – ‘information overload’ is a commonly discussed condition. Big data has enabled new tasks, such as finding the most appropriate information online, engaging in historical study using language data on the level of millions of documents, and tracking trends in sentiment and opinion in real time. These tasks need not cause stress and feelings of overload: the human intellectual capacity is not the problem. Rather, the current technological supports are inappropriate for these tasks. Linguistic information overload is not a new phenomenon: throughout history, the pace of information creation and storage has exceeded the pace of development of management strategies.

Drawing on a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods, my research aims to bring new, richly interactive interfaces to the forefront of information management, in order to keep up with the current challenges of ‘big data’ and the growing power of linguistic computing algorithms. In this talk I will present the results of several design studies spanning investigations of patterns in millions of real passwords to using visualization to analyze the written history of the court system. Each project aims to bridge what I call the ‘linguistic visualization divide’ – the practical disconnect between the sophistication of natural language processing and the power of interactive visualization. In conclusion, I will present some general challenges and opportunities for the future of text and language visualization.

Designing Multiple Relation Visualizations:
Case Studies from Text Analytics

Friday, April 5, 2013
12:00p.m. to 1:00p.m. (lunch provided)
Levine Science Research Center, Room D106 (near the Research Drive entrance), in conjunction with the Visualization Friday Forum

Datasets often have both explicit relations (e.g. citations between papers in a data set, links in a parse tree), and implicit relations (e.g. papers by the same author, words that start with the same letter). Drawing on grounding research into the real-world problems faced by computational linguists, in this talk I will explore several examples of visualizations designed to support simultaneous exploration of both explicit and implicit relations in data. I will suggest the concept of ‘spatial rights’ – the primacy of the spatial visual encoding, and present several methods for enhancing visualizations through adding implicit relation information without disrupting the spatialization of the explicit relation. The techniques have been generalized by others beyond the linguistic domain to be used in bioinformatics, finance, and general statistical charts.

There are also blocks of time in his schedule available for individual and group meetings. If you would like to meet with Dr. Collins, please contact Angela Zoss (angela.zoss@duke.edu) or Eric Monson (emonson@cs.duke.edu).

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