Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171

Advanced VR Research Centre

Big Data - Interactive Visual Analytics


Big data is challenging scientists and engineers as they tackle increasingly complex systems. Big data is a term that is attracting significant interest. Unfortuanately, the definition of big data is open to considerable variation. We prefer to adopt IBM's definition "Big data is arriving from multiple sources at an alarming velocity, volume and variety."

Whilst we are interested in Big data we are more interested in extracting value from the data by increasing our understanding and improving decision making capability. The greater inter-connectedness of systems is adding to the challenge because of the need to process huge amounts of data which originates from many different sources and with different degrees of uncertainty. Whilst great strides have been achieved with semi-automated analysis of the data it is the human that makes sense of the data. Consequently, our research is exploring how to effectively couple the human with their data through advanced interactive visual analytics in terms of the techniques, tools and pre/post processing the data in a form that facilitates interactive exploration. Understanding the perceptual and cognitive factors is key to the progress in this field.

Aims and Objectives

The goal is to create the tools and techniques that can handle enourmous data sets in a way that supports realtime interactive exploration to improve understanding and enhance decision making capability. Also, the ability to process data from different sources, sensory systems across different time and scale dimensions is fundamental to our research. A further aim is to facilitate interaction with the data in an intuitive manner such that important insights can be gained.


There are many strands to this research and is embedded in a number of projects (past and current).

The manner in which the data is displayed (whether it be on small hand-held tablets or large interactive immersive displays) is extremely important. Our research is considering the impact that the display media has on aiding the understanding of big data. Consequently we are drawing upon our long track record of developing powerful and extremely effective user interfaces.

Figure 1: Interactive  big data visualization on tablet display

Unfortunately, there is no single solution that fits all applications which means our research is focusing on finding optimal approaches to suit the application domain.

Managaging big data for complex engineering and manufacturing will become increasingly important. Our research is tackling some of the big challenges in this field.

A related piece of work was presented at the Royal United Services Institute - Measuring the Resilience of Cities: the Role of Big Data. Due to the sensitive nature of this work only highlights can be published.

Want to Know More?

Professor Roy S. Kalawsky, r.s.kalawsky@lboro.ac.uk, +44 (0)1509 63 5678