Visualizing Systems

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Concise overview of 4 different types of diagrams for visualizing systems followed by brief treatment of animated approaches to explaining systems.

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Visualizing Systems

  1. 1. Visualizing SystemsAn overview of the options© Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  2. 2. A system is an interconnected setof elements that is coherentlyorganized in a way that achievessomething.Donella Meadows, Thinking in Systems© Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  3. 3. Show me a picture© Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  4. 4. © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  5. 5. © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  6. 6. Concept Structure Dynamics Behavior© Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  7. 7. Visualizing System Behavior© Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  8. 8. Graphs๏ Most standardized system visual ➡ Used to present recorded data ➡ Taught in schools, used (and abused) by large number of disciplines ➡ Lots of software tools available for drawing these๏ Several roughly synonymous names ➡ graph ➡ chart ➡ plot๏ Abstracted, non-representational view ➡ Many types: line, bar, dot, spider, etc. ➡ All based on cartesian system (x vs y) © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  9. 9. Line Graph Conventions axis Plot of y=x title 5 y (units)dependent variable axis 0 7 Origin x (units) independent variable © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  10. 10. Complex Example This is actually 3 graphs displayed on top of each other: 2 line charts and 1 bar2 y-axes chart key © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  11. 11. Independent Variable not always Time In drug development an important relationship is the response (dependent variable) or outcome that occurs for a given dose (independent variable) of a drug Dose vs Response © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  12. 12. Simple plots are never “true” best “fit” This graph actually displays a great recorded value deal of qualifying information uncertainty © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  13. 13. System response is probabilistic Probable Response at Dose log10-4 Progesterone (M) 50 40 % Inhibition 30 © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  14. 14. Visualizing System Dynamics© Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  15. 15. Flow Diagrams๏ Represent system dynamics in a static form๏ Some standardized conventions ➡ standard generic flow chart conventions ➡ detailed standards for engineering flow disciplines like electronics ➡ attempts at standardization for systems theory๏ Range from representational to schematic © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  16. 16. Generic Flow Chart Conventions Start A Process Step 1 Process Step 2 Process Step 2 No Decision End Yes A “I’ve run out of space, find a similar symbol elsewhere in drawing to continue flow” © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  17. 17. Example of Electronics Conventions © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  18. 18. Heating Dynamics Representationally Decision Signal Heat © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  19. 19. Heating Dynamics as Stocks & Flows An existing standard for representing flow in classical system thinking literature. Difficult to parse? © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  20. 20. Heating Dynamics as Flow Schematic Feedback: Classic Example Thermostat regulating room temperature (via a heater) Desired temperature e.g. 68º . . is indicated by adjusting the . Alternative temperature control lever external electrical source . . . sends current to. . . which in turn moves the bi-metal coil; increasing the desired temperature moves the coil closer to the contact point; representation of decreasing the desired temperature moves the coil further from the contact point thermostat system by Dubberly & Pangaro. output input Bi-metal coil. . .bends to touch the. . . . Contact point . . . . which sends a signal to the. .Heater . (as it cools) . . .bends the opposite . . . . thus no signal is sent, is measured by can increase direction to lose and the heater shuts off contact with the. . . (as it warms) System air temperature in the room Why does a bi-metal coil bend? lowers the bi-metal coils consist of two layers of metal (usually iron and copper) joined together to form one flat strip; because the metals have different coefficients of expansion, the strip will bend in one direction as it cools, and the opposite direction as it warms Cold air outside January 2010 | Developed by Paul Pangaro and Dubberly Design Office 41 © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  21. 21. Generic Flow Schematic Feedback: Formal Mechanism Goal . . . describes a relationship that a system desires to have Combines flow and is embodied in with its environment concept map conventions and is reasonably easy to output input a Sensor passes the current state value to a Comparator . . . . . . . . . . responds by driving an Actuator ‘read.’ . . . has subtracts . . . has resolution – (Accuracy) the current state value resolution is measured by frequency – (Latency) from frequency A better standard for affects the range – (Capacity) the desired state value range to determine the error System systems flow Environment visualizations? can affect the Disturbances . . . may be characterized as certain types typically falling within a known range; but previously unseen types may emerge and values may vary beyond a known range; in such cases the system will fail because it does not have requisite variety January 2010 | Developed by Paul Pangaro and Dubberly Design Office 39 © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  22. 22. Visualizing System Structure© Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  23. 23. Illustrations๏ Used to explain behavior or method of construction๏ Very standardized in some contexts ➡ Mechanical Engineering ➡ Architecture๏ Must be representational to be useful ➡ Representation challenging for abstract systems ➡ With abstract systems, illustrations of structure and flow diagrams hard to distinguish from one another © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  24. 24. Standardized in Physical Disciplines © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  25. 25. Some Abstract Standardizations Exist UML is an example of a standard for abstract systems that has some degree of penetration among object oriented programmers and system architects. © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  26. 26. Ad Hoc Structure for Abstract Systems Current state of the art for illustrating the structure of an abstract system involves simple symbols, shapes, arrows & annotation © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  27. 27. Visualizing System Concepts© Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  28. 28. Concept Maps๏ Used to communicate mental models๏ Present ideas and relationships ➡ Rely on text not symbols ➡ Use arrows to communicate relationships not flow๏ Not at all representational © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  29. 29. Concept Map Conventions Concept Map nodes representing concepts is a with that explain the graph relating relationships between with linking lines that have linking words redrawn from http://redie.uabc.mx/contenido//vol2no1/art-11-eng/contenido-ruiz-figura1.png © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  30. 30. Concept Map Examples © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  31. 31. Animating System Visuals© Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  32. 32. Animated System Visualizations๏ Static pictures are inherently limited in their ability to explain dynamic systems๏ Animated presentations can provide a richer communication experience ➡ can use audio ➡ can use time ➡ can use feedback๏ Animated presentations are systems in themselves ➡ computer simulations ➡ keyframes animations & videos ➡ prototypes ➡ new forms of content © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  33. 33. System Simulations Most system simulation tools are too complex and proprietary for common use, but simpler, web-based tools are being developed. © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  34. 34. Keyframe Animations & Video Click-thru mockups are a powerful form a system visualization. They can be converted to videos to simulate the experience of interacting with the system. © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  35. 35. Interactive Prototype An interactive prototype is a tool for creating a mental model in a person’s mind of a system that does not yet exist. © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  36. 36. New forms of content Documents combining interactivity, words and sounds may eventually become a common way to explain systems. Watch: http://www.ted.com/talks/mike_matas.html © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved
  37. 37. System Visualization Conclusions๏ Static pictures of systems are compact and portable๏ The right picture to produce depends upon what aspect of a system you want to communicate or understand ➡ Behavior = Graphs ➡ Dynamics = Flow Diagrams ➡ Structure = Illustrations ➡ Concepts = Concept Maps๏ Animated system visualizations convey more information than static presentations and may ultimately become the standard for describing systems © Tim Sheiner, all rights reserved

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