Visual analysis of anatomy ontologies and related genomic information
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Challenges in scientific research include the difficulty in obtaining overviews of the large amount of data required for analysis, and in resolving the differences in terminology used to store and interpret information in multiple, independently created data sets. Ontologies provide one solution for analysis involving multiple data sources, improving cross-referencing and data integration. This thesis looks at harnessing advanced human perception to reduce the cognitive load in the analysis of the multiple, complex data sets the bioinformatics user group studied use in research, taking advantage also of users’ domain knowledge, to build mental models of data that map to its underlying structure. Guided by a user-centred approach, prototypes were developed to provide a visual method for exploring users’ information requirements and to identify solutions for these requirements. 2D and 3D node-link graphs were built to visualise the hierarchically structured ontology data, to improve analysis of individual and comparison of multiple data sets, by providing overviews of the data, followed by techniques for detailed analysis of regions of interest. Iterative, heuristic and structured user evaluations were used to assess and refine the options developed for the presentation and analysis of the ontology data. The evaluation results confirmed the advantages that visualisation provides over text-based analysis, and also highlighted the advantages of each of 2D and 3D for visual data analysis.