RainBio: Proportional visualization of large sets in biology

Abstract : Set visualization is a well-known task in information visualization. In biology, it is used for comparing visually sets of genes or proteins, typically using Venn diagrams. However, limitations of the Venn diagram are well-known: they are limited to 6 sets and difficult to read above 4. Many other set visualization techniques have been proposed, but they have never been widely used in biology. In this paper, we introduce RainBio, a technique for visualizing sets in biology and aimed at providing a global overview showing the size of the main intersections, in a proportional way, and the similarities between sets. We adapt rainbow boxes, a technique for visualizing small datasets, to the visualization of larger sets, using element aggregation and intersection clustering. We present the application of RainBio to three datasets, with 5, 6 and 12 sets. We also describe a small user study comparing RainBio with Venn diagrams, involving 30 students in biology. Results showed that RainBio led to significantly fewer errors on 6-set dataset, and that the majority of students preferred RainBio. RainBio is proposed as a web-based tool for up to 15 sets.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, August 6, 2019 - 2:51:23 PM
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Jean-Baptiste Lamy, Rosy Tsopra. RainBio: Proportional visualization of large sets in biology. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2019, ⟨10.1109/TVCG.2019.2921544⟩. ⟨hal-02264217⟩

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