Upcoming January 2021 talk – Elena Simperl

We have Elena Simperl, a Professor of Computer Science at King’s College London, talking to us in January. See details below. A Zoom link will be sent via the mailing list, or please email the Data Viz Organisers group grp-viz-org@groups.bristol.ac.uk


Title: Pie chart or pizza: identifying chart types and their virality on Twitter

Wednesday 13 January 2021, 13:00 – 14:00 (online event)

Abstract: We live in a world full of data, in which charts are routinely used to communicate complex insights more effectively than spreadsheets or reports. Twitter is no exception – tens of thousands of data visualisations on virtually any topic are shared every day. We aim to understand how data, rendered visually as charts or infographics, “travels” on social media. To do so we propose a neural network architecture that is trained to distinguish among different types of charts, for instance line graphs or scatter plots, and predict how much they will be shared. This poses significant challenges because of the varying format and quality of the charts that are posted, and the limitations in existing training data. To start with, our proposed system outperforms related work in chart type classification on the ReVision corpus, a benchmark from the literature. Furthermore, we use crowdsourcing to build a new corpus, more suitable to our aims, consisting of chart images shared by data journalists on Twitter. We evaluate the system on the second corpus with respect to both chart identification and virality prediction, with promising results.

Our system and findings could be used in different scenarios, from generating automatic text captions and recommending chart improvements in data visualisation tools to informing marketing strategies for brands that use data visuals to gauge customer engagement. In addition, our approach, including both the neural architecture and the method to create labelled data, could form the basis for the development of visual question answering solutions tailored to data visualisations, with applications in fact checking and misinformation online.


Biography: Elena Simperl is professor of computer science at King’s College London, a Fellow of the British Computer Society and former Turing fellow. According to AMiner, she is in the top 100 most influential scholars in knowledge engineering of the last decade, as well as in the Women in AI 2000 ranking.  Before joining King’s College early 2020, she held positions at the University of Southampton, as well as in Germany and Austria. She has contributed to more than 20 research projects, often as principal investigator or project lead. Currently, she is the PI of two grants: H2020 ACTION, where she develops human-AI methods to make participatory science thrive, and EPSRC Data Stories, where she works on frameworks and tools to make data more engaging for everyone. She authored more than 200 peer-reviewed publications in knowledge engineering, semantic technologies, open and linked data, social computing, crowdsourcing and data-driven innovation. Over the years she served as programme and general chair to several conferences, including the European and International Semantic Web Conference, the European Data Forum and the AAAI Conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing.

Upcoming Nov 2020 talk – Roy Ruddle

This event will be via Zoom, and you need to sign up using Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/visualizing-the-scale-complexity-of-data-quality-tickets-127981589379

Visualising the Scale and Complexity of Data Quality

24th November, 12:00-13:00

Abstract: Descriptive statistics are typically presented as text, but that quickly becomes overwhelming when datasets contain many variables or analysts need to compare multiple datasets. In this seminar, I will describe visualization designs for three categories of descriptive statistic (cardinalities, distributions and patterns), which scale to more than 100 variables and use multiple channels to encode important semantic differences (e.g., zero vs. 1+ missing values). I will also describe a novel tool, which exploits set visualization techniques to allow users to explain patterns of missing values that involve many fields. The visualizations were evaluated using large (multi-million record) datasets of electronic health records (EHRs), and provided users with a variety of important insights.

Bio – from https://www.turing.ac.uk/people/researchers/roy-ruddle)

Roy Ruddle is a Professor of Computing at the University of Leeds, and Deputy Director (Research Technology) of the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA). He has worked in both academia and industry, and researches visualization, visual analytics and human-computer interaction in spaces that range from high-dimensional data to virtual reality. In a 12-year collaboration with pathologists at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT), he developed the Leeds Virtual Microscope (LVM) for visualizing tera-pixel image collections on Powerwall and ultra-high definition displays, leading to its use for pathology training in NHS hospitals and commercialisation by Roche.

Online talks October 2020 – Network Visualisations

Our second set of online talks, on the theme of Network Visualisations, took place on 19th October 2020.


Talk 1: MiRANA: Visualising networks in genetic epidemiology”, Chris Moreno-Stokoe

MiRANA is an upcoming visualisation tool which is intended to help genetic epidemiologists explore and evaluate network effects in their data. MiRANA arranges estimates for the effects of traits on eachother (e.g., the effect of BMI on diabetes) to produce a public health network. Aimed for use in Mendelian Randomisation research, Chris Moreno-Stokoe demonstrated the ease of use of this tool and showed output visualisations of network effect (including use in a data exploration game). Chris is a third year PhD candidate studying genetic epidemiology and interactive data visualisation. MiRANA is in development for an official launch next year.

Chris provided the following links for people to use the tool with an example dataset:



Chris’s slides can be downloaded here.


Talk 2A visualisation of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s steamship social network”, Gareth Jones

The construction of the three great steamships, starting with the SS Great Western, involved many hundreds of people. In this project we built a visual social network using a d3 force graph to investigate the relationships between the key individuals involved in the construction of each ship. Working with Dr James Boyd at the Brunel Institute, the network was constructed based on the analysis of hundreds of letters of correspondence between Brunel and the engineers, architects and investors involved in each project. The network is still under development and is available at https://brunels-network.github.io/network/.

The simple simple force graph simulation example Gareth created using the d3 force library can be found here https://github.com/gareth-j/d3-react-example

Research Software Engineering run a mailbox for queries – ask-rse@bristol.ac.uk – code design, testing and performance questions.

Gareth’s slides can be downloaded here.

Talk by Coral Manton – November 2019

In November 2019 we had Dr Coral Manton from Bath Spa University speak to the group:

Algorave live-coding, AI activisim and historical visualisation with Coral Manton

Algoraves are about dancing to live music and visuals made with code.

Coral Manton is an interdisciplinary artist, game developer and technologist with a specialism in data visualisation, interactive design, VR/Mixed-Reality, immersive experiences and live-coding. She is Lecturer in Creative Computing at Bath Spa University.

Coral gave a talk on live-coding music and visuals using open-source software, and present two recent projects, a design activism project, Women Reclaiming AI and a historical visualisation prototype she has created for the SWCTN. She also included a short workshop in making music and visuals with code – as a taster to algorave.

Take a look at Run the code: is algorave the future of dance music?

Talk by Will Stahl-Timmins Feb 2020 – video on Youtube

In collaboration with the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at Bristol, we hosted Will Stahl-Timmins from the BMJ coming to talk about infographics – details below.

Information graphics in health science – Dr Will Stahl-Timmins, BMJ

February 10th 2020

Will Stahl-Timmins is data graphics designer for The BMJ, where he designs and commissions infographics, data visualisations and interactive pieces to update busy health professionals on the latest developments in health science. He will be explaining the design process used at The BMJ – from raw copy submitted by academic authors and journalists, through roughs and ideation, negotiation with authors, to realisation, coding interactivity and publishing the graphics. He will also discuss some of the skills and techniques needed for producing data graphics for web and print, and highlight some ways that individuals and teams could make use of design methods to explain complex health data.


Will’s talk can be found on YouTube here

He can be found on Twitter here

Online seminars on health visualisation – Sept 2020

On 28th September 2020 we held out first online data visualisation session, with the following 2 talks:

Talk 1: “Mapping community resilience and vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic. ” Nina Di Cara (Population Health Sciences, UoB)

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK there was a need to understand which communities needed the most help from the government and third-sector, as well as which communities were already supporting themselves through mutual aid efforts.

In partnership with Public Health Wales our group, the Dynamic Genetics lab, developed a novel visualisation of need and support in Wales by drawing together multiple data sources, from administrative data to social media feeds (available at https://covidresponsemap.wales/). The map allows users to dynamically explore the distribution of vulnerability and support by combining different datasets of interest, which allows users to answer the most relevant questions to their use-case. In this talk we will discuss the process of developing the map, the tools we used, and our reflections on developing data science resources for decision making in a crisis.

Nina’s slides can be found here Nina Data Vis Group – COVID-19 Map.


Talk 2: “Using d3.js to visualise food hazards in the United Kingdom” Robert Eyre – winner of the most recent JGI data visualisation competition

No abstract – Robert will talk about the design process behind his winning visualisation for the 2020 JGI data visualisation competition, which can be seem here https://roberteyre.github.io/FSAComp/

Robert’s slides can be found here dvg_robert_eyre

Upcoming meet – October 28th Tableau Showcase, and Tableau practicals

28th October 1-2pm. Tableau showcase

Please sign up using the Eventbrite here

Room 1.20, 35 Berkeley Square, University of Bristol, BS8 1JA

The session will be given by speakers from Tableau.

This will be an hour long session including a 10 minute demo of Tableau’s capabilities with an example mobile phone dataset, a discussion of how data visualisation is used and how Tableau might help you, exploration of the Tableau visuals gallery and information about further training.

Data is everywhere. But it can be hard to make sense of it all. Tableau helps people transform data into actionable insights that make an impact. Easily connect to data stored anywhere, in any format. Quickly perform ad hoc analyses that reveal hidden opportunities. Drag and drop to create interactive dashboards with advanced visual analytics. Then share across your organization and empower teammates to explore their perspective on data. From global enterprises to early-stage start-ups and small businesses, people everywhere use Tableau’s analytics platform to see and understand their data.

Note that University of Bristol employees can access Tableau for free via Tableau’s academic programme. Students can download licenses here. Instructors/non-commercial academic researchers can use the link here. Instructors can download course software here. There is some further information on eligibility here. Tableau Public is free to anyone https://public.tableau.com/s/ and some people might qualify for a licence from Tableau Foundation : https://www.tableau.com/foundation/license-donations

If you are interested in a more structured course, Tableau will be running a beginners and intermediate course that day as well, details can be found on the JGI website.

Introduction to d3.js by Gizat Makhanov – 9th July 2019

We really enjoyed hearing about the potentials of d3.js and seeing some of the visuals it can create. If you would like the slides Gizat has been kind enough to share them with the group, please email the organisers for a copy.

Gizat was also able to give us an insight into a project he is working on, making a visualisation of the London Marathon data (https://results.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/2019/?pid=start), using these for inspiration https://interaktiv.morgenpost.de/berlin-marathon-2016/ & https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/30/sports/new-york-marathon-in-six-charts.html. Hopefully he will be back to share the finished visual with the group!


Other useful links:

d3 galleries:

  • https://github.com/d3/d3/wiki/gallery
  • https://www.d3-graph-gallery.com/

Data Visualisation Techniques in R – April 30th

Osama Mahmoud gave us a talk on the basics of data visualisation in R. He covered base graphics and ggplot2 in a really simple and helpful way, particularly for those who are less familiar with R. His slides are here: Data visualisation techniques using R


We were particularly impressed with the BristolVis R package he has designed, which provides interactive practicals to introduce data visualisation in R and an interactive webtool.


Osama Mahmoud can be contacted by email and was happy to help any of the group with data visualisation inR, for contact details see his website http://osmahmoud.com/.

Upcoming Meetings April – July 2019

“Data visualisation techniques using R” by Osama Mahmoud (UoB)

April 30th at 12:30 – 13:30 Room 4.10, Graduate School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square

To get an idea of numbers please can you sign up via Eventbrite


CANCELLED – will be rescheduled later in 2019 “A Walk through the Python Visualization Forest” by Margriet Groenendijk

May 22nd at 13:30 – 14:30 Post Graduate Hub training room 1, Senate House (note different time and location!!!)

Margriet is a Data Scientist and Developer Advocate from IBM Watson

There are many different Python libraries available for data visualization. These all have different philosophies, syntax and ways to create charts. In this session we will go for a walk in the forest to explore them all and learn about their differences and similarities. We will find out what plots and maps work best for different types of data. The walk will be documented in a Jupyter notebook so later you can go back into the forest on your own.

This will be promoted as part of JGI Data-Week – please register via Eventbrite 


Design Principles of Data Visualisation by Oliver Davis (Data Vis Group organiser) + flash presentations

June 21st at 12:30 – 13:30 Room 4.10, School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square 


Introduction to D3.js by Gizat Makhanov (UoB)

July 9th at 12:30 – 13:30 Room 4.10, School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square