Duen Horng (Polo) Chau, Aniket Kittur, Jason Hong, and Christos Faloutsos


ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI)


January 2011


Extracting useful knowledge from large network datasets has become a fundamental challenge in many domains, from scientific literature to social networks and the web. We introduce Apolo, a system that uses a mixed-initiative approach - combining visualization, rich user interaction and machine learning - to guide the user to incrementally and interactively explore large network data and make sense of it. Apolo engages the user in bottom-up sensemaking to gradually build up an understanding over time by starting small, rather than starting big and drilling down. Apolo also helps users find relevant information by specifying exemplars, and then using a machine learning method called Belief Propagation to infer which other nodes may be of interest. We evaluated Apolo with twelve participants in a between-subjects study, with the task being to find relevant new papers to update an existing survey paper. Using expert judges, participants using Apolo found significantly more relevant papers. Subjective feedback of Apolo was also very positive.

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