Jian Zhao, Ph.D

jianzhao [at] dgp [dot] toronto [dot] edu

Department of Computer Sience, University of Toronto
10 King's College Rd, Rm 3302, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3G4

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    About Me

    I just completed my PhD at the Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto in July 2015. My supervisor was Prof. Ravin Balakrishnan. I was affliated with the Dynamic Graphic Project (DGP) lab during my PhD study. Before coming to UofT, I received my Bachelor's Degree (with honour) in Engineering at College of Computer Science, Zhejiang University in June 2009, where I was also affiliated with the Chu Kochen Honors College.

    My research interests, broadly, are Information Visualization and Human Computer Interaction. My PhD thesis is titled with Interactive Visual Data Exploration: A Multi-Focus Approach. Specifically, my work falls in topics about designing novel interactive visualization systems supporting multi-focus visual exploration of complicated real-world datasets, developing new methods for information seeking and navigation on web, creating interaction techniques for mobile phones, and quantitatively modelling user performance on touch screens.


    Conference Full Papers and Journal Articles

    Conference Short Papers

    Posters, Work-in-Progress, and others


    Ji Wang, Jian Zhao, Sheng Guo, Chris North.
    Clustered Layout Word Cloud for User Generated Review.
    Yelp Dataset Challenge (Grand Prize Winner), Oct 2013.


    Jian Zhao.
    A Particle Filter Based Approach of Visualizing Time-varying Volume.
    LDAV'12: IEEE Symposium on Large-Scale Data Analysis and Visualization, Oct 2012.
    Abstract Paper

    Abstract: Extracting and presenting essential information of time-varying volumetric data is critical in many fields of sciences. This paper introduces a novel approach of identifying important aspects of the dataset under the particle filter framework in computer vision. With the view of time-varying volumes as dynamic voxels moving along time, an algorithm for computing the 3D voxel transition curves is derived. Based on the curves which characterize the local data temporal behavior, this paper also introduces several post-processing techniques to visualize important features such as curve clusters by k-means and curve variations computed from curve gradients.

    PhD Thesis


    Jian Zhao.
    Interactive Visual Data Exploration: A Multi-Focus Approach.
    Department of Computer Science, University of Tornoto, Jul 2015.
    Abstract Paper Bibtex

    Abstract: Recently, the amount of digital information available in the world has been growing at a tremendous rate. This huge, heterogeneous, and complicated data that we are continuously generating could be an incredible resource for us to seek insights and make informed decisions. For this knowledge extraction to be efficient, visual exploration of data is demanded in addition to fully automatic methods, because visual exploration can integrate the creativity, flexibility, and general experience of the human user into the sense-making process through interaction and visualization techniques.

    Due to the scale and complexity of data, robust conclusions are usually formed by coordinating many sub-regions in an information space, which leads to the approach of multi-focus visual exploration that allows browsing different data segments with multiple views and perspectives simultaneously. While prior research has proposed a myriad of information visualization techniques, there still lacks comprehensive understanding about how visual exploration can be facilitated by multi-focus interactive visualizations. This dissertation investigates issues and techniques of multi-focus visual exploration through five design studies, touching various types of data in a range of application domains.

    The first two design studies address the exploration of numerical data values. KronoMiner presents a multi-purpose visual tool for exploring time-series based on a dynamic radial hierarchy; and the ChronoLenses system supports exploratory visual analysis of time-series by allowing users to progressively construct advanced analytical pipelines. The third design study focuses on the exploration of logical data structures, and presents DAViewer that facilitates computational linguistics researchers to explore and compare rhetorical trees. The last two design studies consider the exploration of heterogeneous data attributes (or facets). TimeSlice facilitates the browsing of multi-faceted events timelines by organizing visual queries in a tree structure; and PivotSlice aids the mining of relationships in multi-attributed networks through a dynamic subdivision of data with customized semantics.

    This dissertation ends with critical reflections and generalizations of the experiences obtained from the case studies. High-level design considerations, conceptual models, and visualization theories are distilled to inform researchers and practitioners in information visualization for devising effective multi-focus visual interfaces.

    See my other interesting unpublished projects!


    Research Intern, Microsoft Research, Redmond, Dec. 2014 - Mar. 2015
    Research Intern, Adobe Research, San Francisco, Jun. 2014 - Sep. 2014
    Research Intern, IBM Almaden Research Center, San Jose, Jun. 2013 - Sep. 2013
    Research Intern, Microsoft Research, Redmond, Jun. 2011 - Sep. 2011

    Major Awards

    Robert E. Lansdale/Okino Computer Graphics Graduate Fellowship, $2000, 2015
    Wolfond Fellowship, University of Toronto, $10,000, 2012
    Wolfond Scholarship, University of Toronto, $5,000, 2010, 2011
    University of Toronto Art & Science Fellowship, ~$30,000/year, 2009-2014
    Chinese National Scholarship, ¥8,000/year, 2006, 2008
    1st Class Zhejiang University Academic Scholarship, ¥5,000/year, 2006-2008



    Mira Dontcheva, Jian Zhao, Aaron Hertzmann, Alan Wilson, Zhicheng Liu.
    Providing Visualizations of Event Sequence Data. . Filed in 2015.


    Liang Gou, Fei Wang, Jian Zhao, Michelle Zhou.
    Personal Emotion State Monitoring from Social Media. Filed in 2014.


    Jian Zhao, Steven Drucker, Danyel Fisher, Donald Brinkman.
    Relational Rendering of Multi-Faceted Data. US 20130194294 A1, Aug. 2013.

    Teaching Assistantships

    CSC108 Introduction to Computer Programming   (Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Summer 2015)
    CSC148 Introduction to Computer Science   (Fall 2010)
    CSC318 Design of Interactive Computational Media   (Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2013)
    CSC309 Programming on the Web   (Fall 2012)
    CSC428/2514 Human-Computer Interaction   (Spring 2014)


    Supporting Data Analytics with Interactive Visualization. CaseWare International Inc., Toronto, ON, 2015.6
    Bridging Data and User with Interactive Visualization. Peking University, Bejing, China 2015.5
    Visual Comparison of Event Sequence Data. ACM CHI, Seoul, South Korea, 2015.4
    Bridging Data and User with Interactive Visualization Autodesk Research, Toronto, ON, 2014.11
    #FluxFlow: Visual Analysis of Anomalous Information Spreading on Social Media IEEE VIS, Paris, France, 2014.11
    PEARL: An Interactive Visual Analytic Tool for Understanding Personal Emotion Style Derived from Social Media IEEE VIS, Paris, France, 2014.11
    Visual Comparison of Event Sequence Data Adobe Research, San Francisco, CA, 2014.9
    Visual Data Exploration: A Multi-Focus Approach UOIT, Oshawa, ON, 2013.12
    Visual Analytics of Online Social Media IBM Research Almaden, San Jose, CA, 2013.9
    TrailMap: Facilitating Information Seeking in a Multi-Scale Digital Map via Implicit Bookmarking ACM CHI, Paris, France, 2013.5
    TrailMap: Facilitating Information Seeking in a Multi-Scale Digital Map via Implicit Bookmarking ToRCHI seminar, Toronto, ON, 2013.4
    Facilitating Discourse Analysis with Interactive Visualization IEEE VisWeek, Seattle, WA, 2012.10
    Exploratory Analysis of Time-series with ChronoLenses IEEE VisWeek, Providence, RI, 2011.10
    TimeSlice: Interactive Faceted Browsing of Timeline Data Microsoft Research, Redmond, WA, 2011.8
    KronoMiner: Using Multi-Foci Navigation for the Visual Exploration of Time-Series Data ACM CHI, Vancouver, BC, 2011.5
    A Model of Multi-touch Manipulation GRAND, Vancouver, BC, 2011.5
    Modeling Scrolling Interactions on Touch Screens Jilin University, China, 2010.12
    KronoMiner: Using Multi-Foci Navigation for the Visual Exploration of Time-Series Data KMDI seminar, University of Toronto, 2010.9


    Program Committee
    International Symposium on Visual Computing (ISVC), 2014-2015.
    International Symposium of Chinese CHI (Chinese CHI), 2016.

    Student Volunteer
    ACM Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2014.
    IEEE VisWeek (VAST, InfoVis, SciVis), 2010-2011.

    IEEE VIS (VAST, InfoVis, SciVis), 2012-2015.
    IEEE Pacific Visualization Symposium (PacificVis), 2014.
    IEEE Eurographics/VGTC Symposium on Visualization (EuroVis), 2015.
    IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG), 2013.
    ACM Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2011-2015.
    ACM User Interface Software and Technology (UIST), 2013-2015.
    ACM Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (MobileHCI), 2014.
    ACM Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (NordiCHI), 2014.
    ACM Asia Pacific Conference on Computer Human Interaction (APCHI), 2012.
    ACM World Wide Web (WWW), 2015.
    Human-Centric Computing and Information Sciences, 2015.

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