Bristle maps: A multivariate abstraction technique for geovisualization

Sungye Kim, Ross Maciejewski, Abish Malik, Yun Jang, David S. Ebert, Tobias Isenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


We present Bristle Maps, a novel method for the aggregation, abstraction, and stylization of spatiotemporal data that enables multiattribute visualization, exploration, and analysis. This visualization technique supports the display of multidimensional data by providing users with a multiparameter encoding scheme within a single visual encoding paradigm. Given a set of geographically located spatiotemporal events, we approximate the data as a continuous function using kernel density estimation. The density estimation encodes the probability that an event will occur within the space over a given temporal aggregation. These probability values, for one or more set of events, are then encoded into a bristle map. A bristle map consists of a series of straight lines that extend from, and are connected to, linear map elements such as roads, train, subway lines, and so on. These lines vary in length, density, color, orientation, and transparencya-creating the multivariate attribute encoding scheme where event magnitude, change, and uncertainty can be mapped as various bristle parameters. This approach increases the amount of information displayed in a single plot and allows for unique designs for various information schemes. We show the application of our bristle map encoding scheme using categorical spatiotemporal police reports. Our examples demonstrate the use of our technique for visualizing data magnitude, variable comparisons, and a variety of multivariate attribute combinations. To evaluate the effectiveness of our bristle map, we have conducted quantitative and qualitative evaluations in which we compare our bristle map to conventional geovisualization techniques. Our results show that bristle maps are competitive in completion time and accuracy of tasks with various levels of complexity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6484065
Pages (from-to)1438-1454
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2013


  • Data transformation and representation
  • data abstraction
  • geovisualization
  • illustrative visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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