Fully Three-Dimensional Radial Visualization

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Department of Mathematical Sciences


We develop methodology for three-dimensional (3D) radial visualization (RadViz) of multidimensional datasets. The classical two-dimensional (2D) RadViz visualizes multivariate data in the 2D plane by mapping every observation to a point inside the unit circle. Our tool, RadViz3D, distributes anchor points uniformly on the 3D unit sphere. We show that this uniform distribution provides the best visualization with minimal artificial visual correlation for data with uncorrelated variables. However, anchor points can be placed exactly equi-distant from each other only for the five Platonic solids, so we provide equi-distant anchor points for these five settings, and approximately equi-distant anchor points via a Fibonacci grid for the other cases. Our methodology, implemented in the R package radviz3d, makes fully 3D RadViz possible and is shown to improve the ability of this nonlinear technique in more faithfully displaying simulated data as well as the crabs, olive oils and wine datasets. Additionally, because radial visualization is naturally suited for compositional data, we useRadViz3D to illustrate (i) the chemical composition of Longquan celadon ceramics and their Jingdezhen imitation over centuries, and (ii) United States regional SARS-Cov-2 variants’ prevalence in the Covid-19 pandemic during the summer 2021 surge of the Delta variant.

Publication Title

Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics