We investigated the impacts of three sorting techniques on various cognitive tasks performed on a tabular representation. The tasks under study were a multi-attribute object selection task and selected low-level analytic tasks. Three sorting techniques, including sorting by a column (Typical Sort: TS), sorting by all columns simultaneously (SimulSort: SS), and sorting by all columns with faithful vertical locations (ParallelTable: PT), were compared with a static table without the sorting feature (Baseline: B). An incentivized controlled laboratory study with 80 participants and a preliminary eye-tracker study were conducted to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the four different approaches. We found that SimulSort and ParallelTable significantly improved the performance of multi-attribute object selection. ParallelTable, however, suffers from an occlusion problem, so it is not an appropriate support for some low-level analytic tasks. We used the findings to propose appropriate sorting techniques for specific tasks performed on a table.


Visualized Decision Making, tabular visualization, SimulSort, ParallelTable, sorting

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