My research focuses on designing tools that augment human abilities for more effective data analysis and communication. I am particularly interested in the problem of human-machine configuration. Extensive research has been done to improve the efficiency and scalability of data systems and algorithms, but users are often added as an afterthought. It is a challenge to reconcile the inherent tension between automated data processing and the creative, flexible, but limited human mind. To achieve a tight coupling between the human and the machine, my work takes a holistic approach and contributes novel techniques, models and frameworks that inform the design of interactive data systems.

Selected Projects

1. Designing and Creating Visualizations without Programming

If there exists a unifying framework that describes the composition and generation of data visualizations and information graphics, what are the building blocks of the framework?

Data-Driven Guides
creating expressive infographics with data-bound smart guides
Data Illustrator
augmenting vector drawing tools with lazy data binding
modeling & visualizing tabular data as multi-variate networks

2. Visual Analytics of Temporal Event Sequences

How do we combine users' domain knowledge and data mining algorithms for interactive analyses of temporal event sequence data?

mining & visualizing branching patterns in event sequences
Mining Frequent User Tasks
extracting frequent patterns that correspond to user tasks
Patterns and Sequences
exploring clickstreams at multiple levels of granularity

3. Interactive Systems for Data Enthusiasts

What implications does interactive analysis have on the design of user interface, system framework and workload distribution?

querying big data in real-time through data tile precomputation & parallel processing on GPU
managing ambiguity in natural language interfaces for data visualization
making sense of document collections with text analytics and interactive visualizations


  • 801 N 34th St
  • Seattle, WA 98103
  • Tel: 415 832 4366
  • Email: leoli at
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Travel & Talks

  • Apr 2018, CHI, Montreal
  • Feb 2018, China
  • Jan 2018, Shonan Meeting, Japan
  • Dec 2017, CHI PC meeting, Montreal
  • Nov 2017, Dagstuhl, Germany
  • Oct 2017, VIS, Phoenix, AZ
  • Jun 2017, EuroVis, Barcelona, Spain