the analyst undertakes to identify the fraudulent activities.Together, this simple visualization functions as both presen-tation and analysis tools to understanding the problem do-main.
Social Network Analysis
An increasingly popular trend in online user interaction isthe creation and maintenance of relationships through socialnetworking websites. Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook are just a few examples of sites boasting membership in themillions from around the globe. Appropriate analysis of on-line social networks has applications in advertising, trend-spotting, market prediction, and defense.One of the most frequent goals of social network analy-sis (SNA) is the identiﬁcation of communities. While somesocial networking communities, such as Facebook, do allowusers to place themselves into groups, others do not. Com-munities must therefore be detected through analysis. Vi-sualization tools for the presentation and analysis of socialnetworks, such as Heer and Boyd’s Vizster (Heer and Boyd2005), allow analysts to detect community structure whennone is explicitly provided by users through visual explo-ration of the social network in a node-link diagram.Perer and Shneiderman’s SocialAction (Perer and Shnei-derman 2006) takes another approach. SocialAction pro-vides integration of visual exploration and statistical meth-ods to discover community structure as well as rank theimportance of individuals to the connectivity of the socialmodel. Systematic exploration is tightly coupled to the vi-sualization of the social network, and as a result, the modeland its representation evolve as the user interacts with thedata.This idea is taken further by Godwin in Time Web (God-win 2008), a tool used for the generation of similaritynetworks from activity records of individuals over time.Through the application of a similarity detection algorithm,individuals can be compared to each other to identify thosewho follow similar trends of behavior (Figure 2). The re-sults of analysis are presented using an evolving representa-tion of the similarity network that allows the user to providefeedback and modify the algorithm. While the algorithm issufﬁcient to detect similarity between two individuals, thisvisualization is necessary to develop a greater understand-ing of the interaction of thousands of individuals or more.Through study of the similarity network, analysts are ableto identify shared trends as well as communities who fol-low the same behavioral patterns. This can yield insight intosocial interactions between similar individuals.
Visualization has the potential of becoming an integral partof social modeling and simulation. It is up to the researchersin thevisualization community to identify methods and toolsthat can be immediately applied to address the needs of thesocial scientists. We demonstrate that one promising direc-tion for visualization is to play both the roles of presentationand analysis. By leveraging the capabilities of visualizationtechniques, we hope that some difﬁcult challenges in socialmodeling can be efﬁciently addressed.Figure 2:
A similarity network created in Time Web. Thesource data is a collection of terrorist attacks, which our software grouped by the terrorist organization responsibleto uncover similarities between groups. Groups that were found to be very similar were connected in the similaritynetwork.
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