Art of Analytics: The Leaf

The best minds from Teradata, our partners, and customers blog about relevant topics and features.
Teradata Employee


 About the Insights  
'The Leaf' fuses real life imagery with a data visualization to provide a vivid demonstration of where the future of analytics may be going. As technology improves both the graphics and the speed and ease with which data can be visualized, one emerging form is using real life imagery to replace the technical diagrams of the past.


The implications are huge. Free of imposing technical diagrams, visualizations using real life imagery allow insights to be easily consumed by anyone, even small children. Marketers can translate product benefits using real life representations. For example, showing farmers the physical benefits of fertilizers and chemical protectants by using real life images of their farms with the different crop growth they can achieve, may translate a sales message with a remarkable insight not many farmers would getfrom graphs alone.


The Leaf image was created using Kailash Purang's 'Single Malt Sampler' data set. In this graph the dots (nodes) that form the spine of the leaf are the whisky brands, similar tasting whiskies appear closest together. The lines (edges) link each brand to other brands, which share a flavour characteristic. The result was this near perfect leaf image.


Thus 'The Leaf' adapts to what Kevin Slavin refers to in his brilliant TED talk about a world run by algorithms — it is a metaphor to encourage us to think about data and maths from a contemporary point of view.


About the Analytics
The underlining data set has been extracted from the Teradata Aster Lens environment and processed with Gephi; an open source tool for visual data analysis and exploration.


"The Leaf" applies a Radial Axis Layout, which distributes the nodes on linear axes radiating from a circle. Grouping and ordering the nodes on an axis by degree produces the straight line of nodes along the centre of the graph (leaf). The actual leaf is then automatically drawn by curved edges between the nodes and applying a greenish colour range to nodes and edges. Et voilá, here is "The Leaf" shown in the bottom right of the picture.


The single leaf created by the data visualization was added to the real world photograph of the plant using Photoshop. This allows us to see how life like the digitally created leaf appears next to the real world leaves of the plant.


About the Analyst
Alexander is a founding contributor to The Art Of Analytics project. He has an unusually strong design eye matched with the technical proficiency to manipulate complex analytical images to emphasise their insights. Alexander is the producer of all The Art Of Analytics images, working with Teradata's Data Scientist Community. He specializes in manipulating Aster Lens and Gephi images to produce the exceptional high quality, high resolution 'Art' pieces found in the collection.


Alexander is currently based in Zurich, having grown up near Frankfurt, Germany and graduated from Kingston University in London.


Shortly after, he began his analytics career working as a Business Intelligence Project Manager across various industries and geographical regions. During this time Alexander developed a keen understanding of the importance different visual imagery can have on the ability to effectively communicate a message. In particular, when dealing with mixed audiences, no matter the organizational hierarchy, expertise level or language skills; he found that pictures and visualizations were instrumental in forming a common understanding among the audience. Thus Alexander took an early interest in the importance of the form and structure of the different visual elements that aid communication. Today Alexander is working as a cross industry Account Executive for Teradata in Switzerland, looking after and supporting a variety of Teradata customers as well as prospects. His passion for visual representation plays a major role in his current job, as he shares complex concepts and analytic insights with his clients.


And when Alexander is not out and about with his customers or prospects, or working late at night creating amazing pieces of 'Analytic Art' you might find him cruising on his motorbike through the Alps or traveling the world with his camera — always on the hunt for the next geocache and picture.