Competing Models: Inferring Exploration Patterns and Information Relevance via Bayesian Model Selection
Analyzing interaction data provides an opportunity to learn about users, uncover their underlying goals, and create intelligent visualization systems. The first step for intelligent response in visualizations is to enable computers to infer user goals and strategies through observing their interactions with a system. Researchers have proposed multiple techniques to model users, however, their frameworks often depend on the visualization design, interaction space, and dataset. Due to these
... encies, many techniques do not provide a general algorithmic solution to user exploration modeling. In this paper, we construct a series of models based on the dataset and pose user exploration modeling as a Bayesian model selection problem where we maintain a belief over numerous competing models that could explain user interactions. Each of these competing models represent an exploration strategy the user could adopt during a session. The goal of our technique is to make high-level and in-depth inferences about the user by observing their low-level interactions. Although our proposed idea is applicable to various probabilistic model spaces, we demonstrate a specific instance of encoding exploration patterns as competing models to infer information relevance. We validate our technique's ability to infer exploration bias, predict future interactions, and summarize an analytic session using user study datasets. Our results indicate that depending on the application, our method outperforms established baselines for bias detection and future interaction prediction. Finally, we discuss future research directions based on our proposed modeling paradigm and suggest how practitioners can use this method to build intelligent visualization systems that understand users' goals and adapt to improve the exploration process.