LifeFlow: Visualizing an overview of event sequences

Krist Wongsuphasawat, John Alexis Guerra Gómez, Catherine Plaisant, Taowei David Wang, Shneiderman Ben, Meirav Taieb-Maimon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

218 Scopus citations


Event sequence analysis is an important task in many domains: medical researchers may study the patterns of transfers within the hospital for quality control; transportation experts may study accident response logs to identify best practices. In many cases they deal with thousands of records. While previous research has focused on searching and browsing, overview tasks are often overlooked. We introduce a novel interactive visual overview of event sequences called LifeFlow. LifeFlow is scalable, can summarize all possible sequences, and represents the temporal spacing of the events within sequences. Two case studies with healthcare and transportation domain experts are presented to illustrate the usefulness of LifeFlow. A user study with ten participants confirmed that after 15 minutes of training novice users were able to rapidly answer questions about the prevalence and temporal characteristics of sequences, find anomalies, and gain significant insight from the data.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2011 - 29th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Conference Proceedings and Extended Abstracts
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 13 Jun 2011
Event29th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2011 - Vancouver, BC, Canada
Duration: 7 May 201112 May 2011

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Conference29th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2011
CityVancouver, BC


  • Temporal categorical data
  • Timestamped event sequences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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