Evaluation of visualisations of geographically weighted regression, with perceptual stability
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Given the large volume of data that is regularly accumulated, the need to properly manage, efficiently display and correctly interpret, becomes more important. Complex analysis of data is best performed using statistical models and in particular those with a geographical element are best analysed using Spatial Statistical Methods, including local regression. Spatial Statistical Methods are employed in a wide range of disciplines to analyse and interpret data where it is necessary to detect significant spatial patterns or relationships. The topic of the research presented in this thesis is an exploration of the most effective methods of visualising results. A human being is capable of processing a vast amount of data as long as it is effectively displayed. However, the perceptual load will at some point exceed the cognitive processing ability and therefore the ability to comprehend data. Although increases in data scale did increase the cognitive load and reduce processing, prior knowledge of geographical information systems did not result in an overall processing advantage. The empirical work in the thesis is divided into two parts. The first part aims to gain insight into visualisations which would be effective for interpretation and analysis of Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR), a popular Spatial Statistical Method. Three different visualisation techniques; two dimensional, three dimensional and interactive, are evaluated through an experiment comprising two data set sizes. Interactive visualisations perform best overall, despite the apparent lack of researcher familiarity. The increase in data volume can present additional complexity for researchers. Although the evaluation of the first experiment augments understanding of effective visualisation display, the scale at which data can be adequately presented within these visualisations is unclear. Therefore, the second empirical investigation seeks to provide insight into data scalability, and human cognitive limitations associated with data comprehension. The general discussion concludes that there is a need to better inform researchers of the potential of interactive visualisations. People do need to be properly trained to use these systems, but the limits of human perceptual processing also need to be considered in order to permit more efficient and insightful analysis.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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