Big Data Visualization Tools & Techniques

Instructor: David Gloag
Information sets are getting larger, and with them, the desire to see what the information looks like. In this lesson, we'll take a look at Big Data, data visualization, and some tools and techniques used to work with them.

Bringing Order to Information

Large information sets are becoming commonplace. It isn't enough for businesses to simply collect sales transaction information anymore. They need detailed product information for their web presence, they need information on customer spending habits, and they need information on advertising effectiveness in order to focus their efforts. In some respects, you could say that businesses are their own worst enemy. So how do they get a handle on things? How do they bring order to their informational nightmares? As you might imagine, this is a difficult proposition. But there are two areas that show promise: Big Data and data visualization.

What is Big Data?

Big Data is the area of information technology that focuses on large information sets. By large, we mean too big to handle using normal applications. For example, these include applications you may be familiar with, such as Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Access) and its competitors. Even with powerful computers underneath, they have difficulty coping with the amount of information we throw at them these days. And that is constantly changing. What is too big today, will be the norm next week. Obviously, Big Data requires new thinking, new applications, and new ways to address the ever-growing need for information.

What is Data Visualization?

We want to see information. It's only natural given our reliance on our eyesight. Data visualization is the process of presenting information in a visual form, a form that can be quickly and easily understood. Visuals range in complexity from simple two-dimensional line drawings, to intricate three-dimensional worlds. We encounter examples almost every day: the morning weather summary on the local news telecast, the financial charts and graphs in our local newspapers, and the digital enhancements made to our favorite movies. Regardless of the instance, it's clear that data visualization plays an important role in our lives.

What are Some Techniques Used for Big Data Visualization?

As previously mentioned, Big Data is too big to be handled using normal applications. The same is true of Big Data visualization. Still, there are a couple of techniques that can be employed to continue with normal applications. First, you can focus on a particular aspect of the information set. The advantage is that it reduces the size of the information considered. The disadvantage is that it leaves out information that could be valuable. Second, you can consider the information set as a whole but break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. The advantage is that the pieces can be processed. The disadvantage is that it increases processing time.

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