HCIL-2013-31

December 2013
Information Visualization 13, 4 (2014) 326-335
HCIL-2013-31
Evaluation of software can take many forms ranging from algorithm correctness and performance to evaluations that focus on the value to the end user. This paper presents a discussion of the development of an evaluation methodology for visual analytics environments. The Visual Analytics Science and Technology (VAST) Challenge was created as a community evaluation resource, that is, a resource available to researchers and developers of visual analytics environments that would allow them to test out their designs and visualizations and compare the results with the solution and the entries prepared by others. Sharing results allows the community to learn from each other and to hopefully advance more quickly. In this paper we discuss the original challenge and its evolution during the seven years since its inception. While the VAST Challenge is the focus of the paper, there are lessons for many involved in setting up a community evaluation program, including the need to understand the purpose of the evaluation, decide upon the right metrics to use and the appropriate implementation of those metrics including datasets and evaluators. For ongoing evaluations it is also necessary to track the evolution and to ensure that the evaluation methodologies are keeping pace with the science being evaluated. The discussions on the VAST Challenge on these topics should be pertinent to many interested in community evaluations.
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