Evaluation of Visualization Software

Al Globus, Sam Uselton

NAS Technical Report NAS-95-005
February 1995

to appear in Computer Graphics, volume 29, number 2, May 1995.


Visualization software is widely used in scientific and engineering research. But computed visual izations can be very misleading, and the errors are easy to miss. We feel that the software producing the visualizations must be thoroughly evaluated and the evaluation process as well as the results must be made available. Testing and evaluation of visualization software is not a trivial problem. Several methods used in testing other software are helpful, but these methods are (apparently) often not used. When they are used, the description and results are generally not available to the end user.

Additional evaluation methods specific to visualization must also be developed. We present several useful approaches to evaluation, ranging from numerical analysis of mathematical portions of algorithms to measurement of human performance while using visualization systems. Along with this brief survey, we present arguments for the importance of evaluations and discussions of appropriate use of some methods.