Visualization of Multidimensional Data

Professional Seminar in Geospatial Technologies
UMBC GES 679-2
Department of Geography & Environmental Systems
The Universities at Shady Grove, Rockville MD

Meets fortnightly, 2010 Sept 7 to Nov 16, 7:30-9:30 PM
Location: Shady Grove Kendall 2115

Lee De Cola

DATA to Insight, Reston VA
hours: 10:00-18:00 Eastern Time (GMT-5)
Phone: 01 703 709-6972

Sep 07 The dimensions of data Interpreting a cloud    
Sep 21 Measurement and tables A small dataset   30 Find and critique a datagraphic
Oct 05 Time series and forecasting A time series   62 Revise the datagraphic
Oct 19 Spatial representation Mapping a region  89 Analyze a dataset
Nov 02 Complex visualization Multivariate exploration 124 Produce an exhibit
Nov 16 Projects Presentations 150  Final project

*Read through the page indicated, see link for my notes.

Wainer, Howard 2009 Graphic discovery: a trout in the milk and other visual adventures. Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press.

PREREQUISITE: A course in statistics

OBJECTIVES -  By the end of the seminar series you should be able to:

See the dimensions of data – WHAT | WHEN | WHERE?
Choose appropriate displays for data description, analysis, and visualization
Design easy-to-interpret tables, datagraphics, and maps
Ensure that everything in a graphic has a purpose
Reveal multivariate relationships that lead to insight
Interpret and critique exhibits


Interactive presentations
In-class lab exercises
Assignments due fortnightly
Reading assignments
Final project presented in the last class


Spreadsheet (e.g. Excel)
R language (recommended)

Recommended references and sources

  1. Few, S. 2009 Now you see it: simple visualization techniques for quantitative analysis. Oakland CA, Analytics press.Murrell, P. 2006 R graphics. Boca Raton FL, Chapman & Hall/CRC.
  2. Tufte, E. R. 2001 The visual display of quantitative information. Cheshire CT, Graphics Press (of his currently 4 books I think this is still the best).
  3. Wong, D. M. 2009 The Wall Street journal guide to information graphics. New York, W.W. Norton & Co.
  4. The Economist magazine.
  5. The New York Times.
  6. The Washington Post.


I run DATA to Insight, a data visualization consulting and training enterprise. In 2010 I retired after 21 years as a research scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston Virginia, where I used GIS and applied statistics to understand landscape dynamics and the health of regions and their inhabitants. I have published on such topics as land cover and urban systems complexity, spatial forecasting for public health, fractals in geography, and urbanization in Africa. I currently teach at various universities in the National Capital region; and have taught at universities in  Vermont, West Virginia, and southern California. I also participate in GIS training at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. My favorite activities are playing the clarinet and kayaking.

  • Ph.D., Geography 1984, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
  • Course work for the Ph.D. in Economics and Planning 1971-74, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Master of City Planning 1969, University of California, Berkeley, specialization in systems and quantitative methods in planning.
  • B.A., Mathematics 1967, University of California, Berkeley.
  • 2010/10/31