Ridiculous (in a good way)

Ridiculous (in a good way)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

And now for a different sort of data visualization, this one wearing the clothing of art. The picture of a lovely autumnal pool scene in Japan is the work of Tatsuo Horiuchi, using Microsoft Excel. Yes, you read that right. Excel. Why Excel? Apparently, when Mr. Horiuchi retired thirteen years ago he decided to learn one more skill. Adobe Photoshop or other such image manipulation software being too expensive, he bought a computer and started playing around with the autoshapes feature in the bundled Excel. I don't think it will surprise anyone that he won the Microsoft Excel AutoShape Challenge, his other competitors not exactly appreciating the full range of the digital palette. Since then, well, he's been using Excel to excellent effect (like I would not go there!).

In a slightly different vein, Dr. Ben Shneiderman, founding director of the HCIL (Human Computer Interaction Laboratory) as well as recent recipient of the Distinguished Professor Award here at Maryland, this summer has been generating data visualizations into what are known as treemaps. He is fascinated by the visual patterns the data generate, especially depending on the formatting of the output. A display of some of his art presently is on display in the Computer Science Instructional Center, third floor. For those really interested he will be giving a tour next Monday @ 4pm, although I think he would be quite surprised (and delighted) if art historians showed up where normally tread fearless computer scientists.

Pleasant diversions perhaps, but as well fascinating reminders of how connected is our visual experience to the world of math. Fun stuff.