VAST Challenge 2012: How it all works

General Philosophy and Rules

The 2012 VAST Challenge consists of two Mini Challenges. Contestants can choose to work on either one or both Challenges.

The datasets used for these challenges are synthetic: that is, they are a blend of computer- and human-generated data. All datasets, whether real or synthetic, have anomalies. Some anomalies may be significant, some may not. Any anomalies reported should be supported by the proposed hypotheses. For example, “all first names start with a ‘M” may be interesting, but unless it is tied to the discussion of the situation, that anomaly has no place in your submission.

We will include all information necessary to form working hypotheses for the purpose of these challenges. No external data is needed to successfully perform the analysis. Be aware that using additional non-provided data may skew an otherwise successful solution.


There are different requirements for providing answers to the questions:

Short Answer: A short answer consists of text describing the answer and how you arrived at it. It is limited to 300 words (including captions) and a maximum of 3 screen shots.

Detailed Answer: A detailed answer allows for more explanation than a short answer. They are limited to 1000 words (including captions) with a maximum of 10 screen shots. Detailed answers should provide the answer and describe in detail the process used to arrive there.


All entries are required to include a 4 minute video with voice narration. One video must be provided for each mini-challenge entered. The video should be in .wmv format. Please contact the chairs at vast_challenge at visweek.org if you have questions concerning the video.

Some tips for creating a video include:
  • Give a clear explanation of only those aspects of the tool that you used.
  • Give a clear explanation of your starting point for analysis and how you selected it.
  • If there is a choice of visualizations to use explain why one was selected.
  • Give an explanation of what was seen in the visualization that helped in the analysis.
  • If filters or transformation are applied, explain what was used and in what sequence they were applied.
  • If there are anomalies in a visualization explain how they are factored into the analysis.
  • Give a careful definition of subjective terms used such as “uncertainty.”

Two-Page Summaries

Participants will be allowed to publish two page summaries of their submission in the Conference Proceedings. These summaries allow the contestant to give a general overview of their approach and tools, significantly highlight novel features, provide references to papers and other relevant work and describe any new discoveries made about tools while working through the Challenge problem.

The two-page summary must be formatted according to the general IEEE VGTC Guidelines.

These papers will be requested shortly after the contest results are determined, and they will have a very short turnaround time to meet VAST Conference publishing requirements. Please be prepared to provide a paper under this quick deadline, if you wish to have your paper published.

Page last modified on Friday, March 09, 2012