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Test of Time Awards

To improve the future, we must reflect on our past.

The IEEE VIS Test of Time Award is an accolade given to recognize articles published at previous conferences whose contents are still vibrant and useful today and have had a major impact and influence within and beyond the visualization community.

By making the awards at the conference opening we hope to encourage researchers to aim to produce work that is forward looking and has transformational potential. We’re trying to build on our heritage to establish an ambitious future by making it clear at the conference opening that we want participants to aspire to be writing the papers that will be relevant in 10 and 20 years.

Papers are selected for each of the three conferences (VAST, InfoVis and SciVis) by Test of Time Awards panels. These panels are appointed by each conference Steering Committee.

The decisions are based on objective measures such as the numbers of citations, and more subjective ones such as the quality and longevity and influence of ideas, outreach, uptake and effect not only in the research community, but also within application domains and visualization practice.

VAST currently considers conferences 10 years prior to the current conference.

InfoVis currently considers conferences 10 and 20 years prior to the current conference.

SciVis currently considers 15 and 25 years prior to the current conference.

VAST 2008: 10 Years Test of Time Award

Spatio-temporal Aggregation for Visual Analysis of Movements Authors: Gennady Andrienko and Natalia Andrienko
Proc. IEEE VAST 2008, pages 51-58, 2008.

Analyzing and visualizing data about object movements has been a prevailing topic since the advent of VAST. Because of its scale and complexity, this form of spatiotemporal data has always posed a major challenge to the tasks of observing and analyzing movements visually. In this 2008 VAST paper, co-authors Gennady and Natalia Andrienko, presented the first in-depth study on the methods for aggregating movement data and visual designs for depicting aggregated information. The work has provided subsequent research on this topic with a significant benchmark, and its influence and impact remains prevalent today.

Committee: Min Chen (chair), Giuseppe Santucci, John Stasko


1998: An Operator Interaction Framework For Visualization Systems Authors: Chi, E.H.; Riedl, J.

The operator interaction framework established a foundation for understanding interaction in InfoVis by characterizing actions or ‘operators’ in relation to the visualization pipeline. The model introduced in this work helps both system designers and end users understand and predict the effects of interaction by identifying that they occur at different levels of abstraction. As such, it is a foundational work contributing to the visualization reference model and it established an important basis for engineering of interaction in visualization systems. The paper has been extensively cited, including many recent citations, indicating its continued relevance even 20 years later.

Committee: Melanie Tory (chair), Sheelagh Carpendale, Jean-Daniel Fekete

2008: Effectiveness of Animation in Trend Visualization Authors: George G. Robertson; Roland Fernandez; Danyel Fisher; Bongshin Lee; John T. Stasko

Inspired by the Roslings’ Gapminder, Robertson et al. conducted experiments to establish whether and when the animated transitions used in Trendalyzer might be effective. Their comparison of three trend visualization methods found small multiples to be preferable for analysis but animation to be fastest for presentation, enjoyable, exciting and error-prone. These empirical findings draw attention to some of the difficult trade-offs encountered in visualization, helping designers navigate the evolving design space for exploration and communication with some confidence in knowledge of the likely implications of their decisions. The work itself has been widely accepted, broadly cited and applied by many in visualization design contexts. It has seeded follow up studies and acted as a model for the controlled empirical study of dynamic visualization in use and can inspire others to assess the efficacy of emerging visualization methods.

Committee: Jason Dykes (chair), Hanspeter Pfister, Stephen North


1993: Texture splats for 3D scalar and vector field visualization Authors: Roger Crawfis; Nelson L. Max

Vector field visualization continues to be one of the most active topics for scientific visualization research. To visualize three dimensional vectors, how to clearly depict the flow directions, the associated scalar attributes, and in the mean time to avoid 3D occlusion and visual cluttering remains to be a challenge problem. In this paper, the authors present one of the first techniques that employ volume rendering to combine scalar and vector fields to produce a single picture. Based on the concept of texture splatting, a well known volume rendering technique, the authors introduce an ideal reconstruction function for 3D signals to produce texture maps for the splats. Even compared to the techniques developed recently, the method still produces flow animations in the best quality. The 2018 SciVis Test of Time award committee selected this paper as the 25 years IEEE SciVis Test of Time award winner based on its originality, the importance, and the long term impact to the application areas.

Committee: Tom Ertl, Chris Johnson, Kwan-Liu Ma, Edi Gröller, Han-Wei Shen (chair)

2003: Acceleration techniques for GPU-based volume rendering Authors: Jens H. Krüger; Rüdiger Westermann

In the 90s after volume rendering was first introduced, many research ideas were introduced to accelerate ray casting that ran on CPUs, among which early ray termination and empty space leaping are the most popular techniques. Later with the advent of GPUs and 3D texture hardware, volume rendering was made to run at an interactive speed for data of moderate size. For very large scale volumes, however, the speed of GPU-based volume rendering can still bequite slow due to the expensive per-fragment operations involved. In this paper, the authors show how to exploit early z-test to terminate fragment processing when its opacity reaches full, and how to skip empty space along rays. These were two issues mostly overlooked at that time, and believed hard to implement on GPUs. After 15 years since the paper was published, the techniques presented are still used and became even more relevant as more powerful GPUs become available. The 2018 SciVis Test of Time award committee selected this paper as the 15 year IEEE SciVis Test of Time award winner based on its originality, the importance, and the long term impact to the application areas.

Committee: Tom Ertl, Chris Johnson, Kwan-Liu Ma, Edi Gröller, Han-Wei Shen (chair)