Parisian Master of Research in Computer Science
Master Parisien de Recherche en Informatique (MPRI)

Visual Data Analysis

Datasaurus Dozen [Matejka et al. 2017]


When? Where?

What's new?

As of 2023, this class (previously dealing with graphics and visualization) is completely focused on visual data analysis.

Jean-Daniel Fekete, a leading expert in data visualization, is joining the teaching team. Welcome Jean-Daniel!


Data analysis is a central challenge in today's numerical society. While many advanced statistical tools have been proposed to analyze complex data, these may fall short when it comes to unravel the unexpected, as illustrated in the above animation, with the dinosaur shape surprisingly popping up in the celebrated “Datasaurus dozen” distribution collection [Matejka et al. 2017]. From a basic statistical standpoint, all these distributions are identical: they share the same means, the same standard deviations, and the same correlation. However, they are arguably different.

This observation motivates the need for visual and interactive tools, helping users to investigate their data and to leverage the power of the human visual system to improve data interpretation.

Moreover, as shown in the “Datasaurus dozen” example, in many scenarios, data descriptors which are more visual in essence (e.g. dealing with shape and topology) can be more informative.

This class will describe how to integrate a visual aspect in the data analysis process, either by (1) creating data visualizations or by (2) exploiting visual descriptors, in particular the topological descriptors from Topological Data Analysis (e.g. persistence diagrams, Reeb graphs, Morse-Smale complexes, etc.).

Tentative course planning

The course will include 8 classes of 3 hours (each class will include itself a 1.5h lecture and a 1.5h hands-on), as well as 1 session of 3-hours where students will present research papers.

  1. [15/09][Tierny] Global introduction, visualization basics, introduction to topology (simplicial homology) & Practical hands-on with ParaView [Bring your laptop] Slides
  2. [22/09][Fekete] Introduction: the Human Processor and the Grammar of Graphics & Practical hands-on with the GoG Slides
  3. [29/09][Tierny] Persistent homology and its applications to visual analysis & Practical hands-on with TTK [Bring your laptop] Slides
  4. [06/10][Fekete] Visualization of tables & Practical hands-on with multidimensional visualization Slides
  5. [13/10][Tierny] Towards more advanced descriptors (Reeb graphs, Morse-Smale complex) & Practical hands-on with TTK [Bring your laptop]
  6. [03/11][Fekete] Visualization of Graphs & Practical hands-on with graph visualization Slides
  7. [10/11][Fekete] Interaction with visualization & Practical hands-on with interaction
  8. [17/11][Tierny] Research seminar
  9. [24/11] Written exam (1 hour, 10 short open questions, 1 A4 sheet of hand-written notes allowed)

Related courses


The course will be given in English (except if all participants speak French).

Research seminar


Available papers

Internships and Ph.D. positions


Universités partenaires Université Paris-Diderot
Université Paris-Saclay
ENS Cachan École polytechnique Télécom ParisTech
Établissements associés Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie CNRS INRIA CEA