A Spectral Method for Assessing and Combining Multiple Data Visualizations

Dimension reduction and data visualization aim to project a high-dimensional dataset to a low-dimensional space while capturing the intrinsic structures in the data. It is an indispensable part of modern data science, and many dimensional reduction and visualization algorithms have been developed. However, different algorithms have their own strengths and weaknesses, making it critically important to evaluate their relative performance for a given dataset, and to leverage and combine their individual strengths. In this paper, we propose an efficient spectral method for assessing and combining multiple visualizations of a given dataset produced by diverse algorithms. The proposed method provides a quantitative measure -- the visualization eigenscore -- of the relative performance of the visualizations for preserving the structure around each data point. Then it leverages the eigenscores to obtain a consensus visualization, which has much improved { quality over the individual visualizations in capturing the underlying true data structure.} Our approach is flexible and works as a wrapper around any visualizations. We analyze multiple simulated and real-world datasets from diverse applications to demonstrate the effectiveness of the eigenscores for evaluating visualizations and the superiority of the proposed consensus visualization. Furthermore, we establish rigorous theoretical justification of our method based on a general statistical framework, yielding fundamental principles behind the empirical success of consensus visualization along with practical guidance.

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