List of Influences: Penny Rheingans

I was going to describe Penny Rheingans as the first purely scientific visualization person on this list, but that would have been a gross oversimplification. Penny has done groundbreaking work in volume illustration, perception, and uncertainty in visualization. One project of particular interest to me is her experimental evaluation of Chernoff Faces. Penny is also the only person I ever saw knitting at a conference – but after a look at her list of influences (in alphabetical order of the authors below), it all makes sense.

Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., The Computer Scientist as Toolsmith II. Keynote/Newell Award address at SIGGRAPH 94, Orlando, July 1994. Communications of the ACM, March, 39(3):61-68, 1996. Reprise and update of The computer ‘scientist’ as toolsmith—Studies in interactive computer graphics, Information Processing, pp. 625-634, 1977.
This philosophy is my touchstone for the role of visualization research in the world. To be honest, my source is more the man himself (Fred Brooks was my dissertation advisor), but these articles capture the flavor.
Kaffe Fassett, Glorious Knits, Clarkson Potter, 1985.
This book is all about rich color and texture in a domain that is almost the antithesis of computer science.
James Foley and Andries van Dam, Fundamentals of Interactive Computer Graphics, Addison Wesley, 1984.
This is not the first graphics text I learned out of, but the one that made it stick.
Elaine R. S. Hodges, The Guild Handbook of Scientific Illustration, van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.
This book is full of beautiful examples of art in the service of science, as well as insight into what makes good illustrations work.
Ken Perlin and Eric Hoffert, Hypertexture, SIGGRAPH 89, pp. 253 – 262.
Procedurally generated texture and geometry (and visualization parameters) just capture the essence of computer graphics for me. It’s all about capturing the relationships and structural abstractions driving what we look at.
Will Schroeder, Ken Martin, and Bill Lorensen, The Visualization Toolkit, Prentice Hall, 1996.
I adopted vtk to teach my first visualization course (in 1995, from a not-quite-published manuscript), mostly because I couldn’t afford anything that wasn’t free. I’ve stuck with it, because the software is powerful and reliable (and I admire the open software philosophy).
Edward Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Graphics Press, 1983.
I know this is a stereotypical choice, but I love the set of examples he collected.
Colin Ware, Color Sequences for Univariate Maps: Theory, Experiments and Principles, IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, vol. 8, no. 5, pp. 41–49, September 1988.
This article got me thinking concretely about how color and task interact and how their relationship can be evaluated.
Lee Westover, Footprint Evaluation for Volume Rendering, Computer Graphics, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 367-376, 1990. Condensed from his dissertation Splatting: A Feed-Forward Volume Rendering Algorithm, Ph. D. Dissertation, University of North Carolina, 1991.
I was impressed by the careful distillation of sampling theory that lays the foundation for the algorithm. I still find myself referring students back to this (usually the dissertation form).
Connie Willis, bellwether, Bantam Books, 1996.
First example I’ve seen of information visualization in popular literature (introduced by a bratty little girl). This book also reminds me of the lurking absurdity of research, funding mechanisms, organizations, and people in general.

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Robert Kosara

Robert Kosara is a Research Scientist at Tableau Software, and formerly Associate Professor of Computer Science. His research focus is the communication of data using visualization. In addition to blogging, Robert also runs and tweets.

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