March 10, 2023
Youjia Zhou is a computing Ph.D. candidate at the University of Utah working to help scientists and mathematicians with their knowledge-discovery process through practical visual analytics systems. Her research focuses on large and complex data, coupling theoretical analysis with interactive visualization to help users quickly gain insights from complex graphs and hypergraphs.
Visualization is useful when exploring data but can be challenging with complex hypergraphs. Because hypergraphs model data from relationships with more than two entities, the visualizations of complex hypergraphs tend to have areas that contain little informational content due to visual clutter.
Zhou has created a visualization system that supports hypergraph simplification using topological techniques. The system is an interactive web application that allows users to input their datasets and apply simplifications at different scales to discover interesting patterns, subsets, and entities within the relationships modeled. Furthermore, these insights can help domain scientists to identify and address their research problems.
This method of topological simplification can be applied to any multiway relationship. Zhou has explored the relationships among characters in a novel, co-authors of academic publications, members of social groups, and genes in biological pathways.
While many research efforts focus on visualizing large graphs and hypergraphs, few focus on hypergraph simplification. Zhou’s innovative approach to hypergraph simplification and visualization will help solve problems across many disciplines.
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