A tale of Alderwood

See also: the VAST 2008 Challenge, and the VAST 2007 Contest


UPDATE (Dec 5th, 2006)

The contest will continue in 2007 with similar – but of course different – dataset, tasks and schedule. 

The data format will remain the same so you can START NOW and use the 2006 materials to build and test your ideas and systems.  This year we also intend to offer a pre-processed version of the dataset so that more people can participate as different levels.


If you have registered to download the 2006 dataset we will notify you when the 2007 is available

We are hoping of negotiate that the best submission be able to publish a paper in one of the journals related to Visual Analytics.




The VAST 2006 symposium has ended.  

The full result details and the solution are posted.

The interactive session took place and was a success.

Slides of the Contest Results session are posted.

A two-page summary about the contest appeared in the VAST Symposium Proceedings

            The VAST 2006 Contest: A tale of Alderwood,  Grinstein, G., O’Connell, T., Laskowski, S., Plaisant, C., Scholtz, J., Whiting, M., 
            Proc. of  IEEE Symposium on Visual Analytics Science and Technology (2006) 215-216



First place, Corporate Category
Applied Analysis with nSpace and GeoTime
Pascale Proulx, Lynn Chien, Adam Bodnar, Kaleb Ruch and William Wright

Oculus Info Inc.


First Place, Student Category 
Visualizing Relationships in a Diverse Data Collection
Summer Adams and Kanupriya Singhal,

Georgia Institute of Technology


Second Place, Corporate Category
Russell A. Lankenau, M. Andrew Eick, Alexander Decherd, Maxim Khailo, Phil Paris, and Jesse Fugitt

SSS Research, Inc.





Overview of the event


The VAST Contest is a participation category of the IEEE VAST 2006 Symposium.  It continues in the footsteps of the IEEE InfoVis contests as its purpose is to promote the development of benchmarks for visual analytics and establish a forum to advance evaluation methods. The dataset consists mostly of news stories from Alderwood’s city newspaper, along with some multimedia materials and background information.  The goal is to determine if inappropriate activities are taking place and report on hypotheses and conclusions. Participants will have several months to prepare their submissions.  Selected entries will present at the conference, and some teams will be invited to participate in a special workshop before the conference during which professional analysts will interact with the systems and provide feedback. 

Contest Chairs

      Georges Grinstein, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Theresa O’Connell, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Sharon Laskowski, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Catherine Plaisant, HCIL, University of Maryland

      Jean Scholtz, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory  

      Mark Whiting, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory  


      Email the Contest Chairs

Dataset – Tasks - Judging

INFORMATION about the dataset and tasks

     Register and DOWNLOAD the DATASET

     Judging and scoring methodology

Schedule and deadlines of the 2006 contest   (will be similar in 2007)

February 15th 2006       Release of complete dataset
July 18th 2006              Deadline for submission
August 14th 2006         Acceptance notification
Early September         Camera ready materials due  (TBA)
Oct 31st – Nov 2nd        IEEE VAST 2006 Symposium in Baltimore, MD

At the conference

First place entries will receive a prize and will present their work during the contest result session at the conference. All accepted entries will be posted after the conference on the Information Visualization Benchmark Repository.

We will award prizes for best entries in several categories. The judges will decide on the exact categories based on the material received - possibilities include "Best Overall", "Best Student Entry", and "Most Original".
Two to four first place entries will also be invited to participate in special interactive session at the conference. Professional analysts will work with the developers on a new problem and data set. This will provide "personal" feedback to the teams, a unique opportunity.


The contest is open to all, except for the contest organizers and judges. All categories of competitors (academic and commercial) may participate. If in doubt, ask the contest chairs.

You may use any existing commercial product or research prototype, and of course you may combine tools.

We strongly encourage teams to find partners with complementary expertise (e.g.  groups with text analysis or reasoning tools might want to seek partners with user interface expertise) .

At least one author of accepted submissions must attend the Symposium.

"Partial answers" are acceptable but we encourage you to attempt and address all tasks. In other words, if your tool or approach only addresses part of the task, you can still participate in the competition.

Submission Information 
     What to submit?

A completed answer form, a recorded video demonstration, and a 2-page PDF summary, all zipped into one or more files.

We provide an answer form template so that your answers follow a consistent format to facilitate comparisons. 

The recorded video demonstration should focus on the interactive features of the submission and the process of analyzing the data. We require a recorded demonstration because interactivity is an important component and is difficult to evaluate only through a paper submission.   Demonstrations should try not exceed 10 minutes in length.  We recommend that you save your video as Flash as most people will be able view them and they have a good compression rate.   If you are not familiar with recorded video demonstrations take a look at Camtasia. It will work very well for most systems (unless you have fast animation in which case you may need to record with an external video recorder).  Include audio explanations.  Test your video by asking your friends if they can read it (e.g. a common mistake is to not provide the video codec).  Avoid .AVI or other format that generates huge files.  If you anticipate having difficulties generating a digital video, please contact the contest chairs to arrange alternative submission methods. 

The 2-page PDF summary should provide an overview of the tool and the analysis process used, summarize the strengths and weaknesses of the approach, and provide at least one example screen shot. The 2-page summary should be formatted in two-column SIGGRAPH format as described the VAST 2006 Call for Participation.   The summaries of accepted submissions will be published in the VAST adjunct proceedings and in the IEEE Digital Library.  You will have a chance to revise the summary early September, but the turnaround will be very short.

How to submit?    DEADLINE IS JULY 18th (midnight Pacific Standard Time)


We regret that we will be unable to accept ftp submissions between 5:00 p.m. ET Friday, July 14 and 5:00 a.m. ET Monday, July 17.  If this should pose problems for you, please Email the Contest Chairs.


To deliver your submissions:

1.       Save all materials in a directory with the answer form serving as an index.

2.       Name the directory to match the title of your submission: [Team – Name of tool].zip (e.g.

3.       Zip the entry materials into one or more files, limiting the size of each file to 1 GB. If you have more than one file add “-part1of2” etc. to the filename so we can be sure we have all the files, e.g. and

4.       Use Internet Explorer to go to  and drag your files onto that directory

5.       You will not receive a confirmation from the site that your files have been uploaded.

6.       Send an email to to let us know that you have uploaded your files.

7.       Within two business days, we will confirm receipt of your submission or notify you of any problems with your files. Thanks for submitting!

Related websites

Beliv'06: Upcoming workshop on evaluation of information visualization at AVI'06

InfoVis Contest 2003, 2004, 2005

2007 TVCG paper summurizing InfoVis contest results and lessons learned.

Information Visualization Benchmark Repository

IEEE VAST Conference

Questions?   Email the Contest Chairs