SolarView: Low Distortion Radial Embeddings with a Focus

Thom Castermans, Kevin Verbeek, Bettina Speckmann, Michel A. Westenberg, Rob Koopman, Shenghui Wang, Hein van den Berg, Arianna Betti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


We propose a novel type of low distortion radial embedding which focuses on one specific entity and its closest neighbors. Our embedding preserves near-exact distances to the focus entity and aims to minimize distortion between the other entities. We present an interactive exploration tool SolarView which places the focus entity at the center of a “solar system” and embeds its neighbors guided by concentric circles. SolarView provides an implementation of our novel embedding and several state-of-the-art dimensionality reduction and embedding techniques, which we adapted to our setting in various ways. We experimentally evaluated our embedding and compared it to these state-of-the-art techniques. The results show that our embedding competes with these techniques and achieves low distortion in practice. Our method performs particularly well when the visualization, and hence the embedding, adheres to the solar system design principle of our application. Nonetheless-as with all dimensionality reduction techniques-the distortion may be high. We leverage interaction techniques to give clear visual cues that allow users to accurately judge distortion. We illustrate the use of SolarView by exploring the high-dimensional metric space of bibliographic entity similarities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2969-2982
JournalIEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Dimensionality reduction
  • Radial embedding
  • Visualizing distortion
  • Measurement
  • Visualization
  • Data visualization
  • Approximation algorithms
  • Distortion
  • Task analysis


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