My biographical timeline; click for hi-fi video version.


June 2017: Timeline Storyteller will soon be available as a custom visual for Power BI. The custom visual was demonstrated in the opening keynote and during the BI Power Hour at the Microsoft Data Insights Summit in June 2017.

May 2017: The Timeline Consortium is now online: it is an initiative toward a standard for timeline data and timeline visualization tool interoperability, a collaboration between Harvard University, the Sloan Foundation, Microsoft Research, OpenCraft, and others.

Apr. 2017: I presented Timelines Revisited: Considerations for Expressive Storytelling at Bentley University (as part of their RealViz talk series) on Apr. 27 in Waltham, MA [video], as well as at Northeastern University (as part of the NUVis Visualization Consortium) on Apr. 28 in Boston MA [ZIP slides].

Apr. 2017: I spoke at OpenVisConf 2017, Apr. 24 in Boston. My talk was called What story does your timeline tell? [PDF slides] [video]

Mar. 2017: I gave a demo of Timeline Storyteller at Tapestry 2017, a conference about data storytelling, on March 1 in St. Augustine. In the meantime, Timeline Storyteller is now open source.


I am a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research, where I specialize in data visualization for storytelling and journalism. I completed a PhD in Computer Science in 2016 at the University of British Columbia, where I was a member of Tamara Munzner's InfoVis group. I completed a M.Sc in Human-Computer Interaction in 2011 (also at UBC), as well as a B.Comp in Cognitive Science from Queen's University in 2009.

visualization and interface design

I design visualization tools and techniques for data analysis and communication: I write code, I sketch, and I explore and transform data.

→ examples: [Timeline Storyteller] [Portfolio Sandbox] [SoundConsensus]

human-centred quantitative evaluation

I conduct controlled experiments as a way to understand human capabilities with respect to perception and attention (and sometimes these results have actionable implications for human-computer interface design).

→ more info: [CHI 12] [WH 11] [BComp 09]

human-centred qualitative evaluation

I evaluate current data analysis and communication processes, work-in-progress designs, and deployed visualization tools: I conduct work domain analyses, interview studies, chauffeured demos/walkthroughs, and field studies.

→ more info: [InfoVis 14] [BELIV 14 #1] [BELIV 14 #2]


data journalism and storytelling

As part of a collaboration between the UBC InfoVis Group and the Overview Project, I conducted six case studies of journalists who used Overview to investigate and report on large text document collections. Our findings provided transferible lessons for document visualization design.

→ more info: [InfoVis 14] [RPE 12] [595 12]

My goal is to provide journalists and storytellers with tools and techniques for presenting information to readers, such as ways to present visual timelines.

→ more info: [Timeline Storyteller] [Timelines Revisited] [TimeLineCurator: VAST 15]

energy management and conservation

I have collaborated with a company that develops enterprise energy analysis and reporting software and designed visualizations for analyzing and monitoring energy usage in large portfolios of buildings. I consulted with various stakeholders and prospective users, envisioning ways to interactively locate patterns and anomalies.

→ [InfoVis 15] [Portfolio Sandbox]

health and fitness

My M.Sc research pertained to the design and evaluation of C-TOC, a computerized cognitive assessment tool intended for early detection of dementia. I studied the use of C-TOC prototypes by healthy older adults and by adults with diagnosed mild cognitive impairments.

→ more info: [ADAD 14] [CHI 12] [MSc 11]

Prior to my M.Sc, I worked in the area of exercise video games (aka active games): I studied the role of physical exertion on cognitive task performance. I also designed GAIM, an XNA/C# toolkit which allowed players with different input peripherals to play active games together.

→ more info: [BComp 09] [FP 10] [ACE 09]


OpenVisConf, April 24 2017 (Boston, USA)

What Story Does Your Timeline Tell?

→ [slides] [video]

Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, December 8 2016 (Cambridge, USA)

Timelines Revisited: Considerations for Expressive Storytelling

→ [slides]

Dissertation Defence, March 23 2016 (UBC, Canada)

Why Visualization? Task Abstraction for Analysis and Design

→ [slides]

Data-Driven Storytelling Dagstuhl Seminar, Feb 7-12 2016 (Wadern, Germany)

Expressive Storytelling with Timelines (5 min lightning talk)

→ [slides]

Microsoft Research, February 1 2016 (Redmond, USA)

Why Visualization? Task Abstraction for Analysis and Design

→ [video] [slides] [keynote]

University of Washington, September 4 2015 (Seattle, USA)

Matches, Mismatches, and Methods: Multiple-View Workflows for Energy Portfolio Analysis

→ [slides] [keynote]

Vancouver Data Visualization Meetup, May 19 2015 (Vancouver, Canada)

The Future of Data and Design … In Visualization Research

→ [slides] [keynote]

IEEE VIS Doctoral Colloquium 2014 (Paris, France)

Visualization Task Abstraction from Multiple Perspectives

→ [poster] [slides] [keynote]

IEEE InfoVis 2013 (Atlanta, USA)

A Multi-Level Typology of Abstract Visualization Tasks

→ [video] [slides] [keynote]


[J] = journal; [C] = conference; [W] = workshop / other; [BC] = book chapter; [TR] = technical report; [Th] = thesis

Evaluating Data-Driven Stories & Storytelling Tools [BC]
Fereshteh Amini*, Matthew Brehmer*, Gordon Bolduan, Christina Elmer, and Benjamin Wiederkehr. To appear a forthcoming book on Data-Driven Storytelling, edited by Sheelagh Carpendale, Nicholas Diakopoulos, Christophe Hurter, and Nathalie Henry Riche, 2017. (* = equal contribution)

ChartAccent: Annotation for Data-Driven Storytelling [C]
Donghao Ren, Matthew Brehmer, Bongshin Lee, Tobias Höllerer, and Eun Kyoung Choe. To appear in Proc. IEEE PacificVis 2017.

Timelines Revisited: A Design Space and Considerations for Expressive Storytelling [J]
Matthew Brehmer, Bongshin Lee, Benjamin Bach, Nathalie Henry Riche, and Tamara Munzner. To appear in IEEE TVCG.

Why Visualization? Task Abstraction for Analysis and Design [Th]
Matthew Brehmer, PhD Dissertation [April, 2016].

Matches, Mismatches, and Methods: Multiple-View Workflows for Energy Portfolio Analysis [J]
Matthew Brehmer, Jocelyn Ng, Kevin Tate, and Tamara Munzner. IEEE TVCG / Proc. InfoVis 2015.

TimeLineCurator: Interactive Authoring of Visual Timelines from Unstructured Text [J]
Johanna Fulda, Matthew Brehmer, and Tamara Munzner. IEEE TVCG / Proc. VAST 2015.

Overview: The Design, Adoption, and Analysis of a Visual Document Mining Tool For Investigative Journalists [J]
Matthew Brehmer, Stephen Ingram, Jonathan Stray, and Tamara Munzner. IEEE TVCG / Proc. InfoVis 2014.

Visualizing Dimensionally-Reduced Data: Interviews with Analysts and a Characterization of Task Sequences [W]
Matthew Brehmer, Michael Sedlmair, Stephen Ingram, and Tamara Munzner. Proc. ACM BELIV 2014.

Pre-Design Empiricism for Information Visualization: Scenarios, Methods, and Challenges [W]
Matthew Brehmer, Sheelagh Carpendale, Bongshin Lee, and Melanie Tory. Proc. ACM BELIV 2014.

C-TOC (Cognitive Testing on Computer): Investigating the Usability and Validity of a Novel Self-administered Cognitive Assessment Tool in Aging and Early Dementia [J]
Claudia Jacova, Joanna McGrenere, Hyunsoo S. Lee, William Wang, Sarah Le Huray, Emily F. Corenblith, Matthew Brehmer, Charlotte Tang, Sherri Hayden, B. Lynn Beattie, and Ging-Yuek R. Hsiung. Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders, 2014.

A Multi-Level Typology of Abstract Visualization Tasks [J]
Matthew Brehmer and Tamara Munzner. IEEE TVCG / Proc. InfoVis 2013.

Dimensionality Reduction in the Wild: Gaps and Guidance [TR]
Michael Sedlmair, Matthew Brehmer, Stephen Ingram, and Tamara Munzner. UBC CS Technical Report TR-2012-03, 2012.

Investigating Interruptions in the Context of Computerised Cognitive Testing for Older Adults [C]
Matthew Brehmer, Joanna McGrenere, Charlotte Tang, and Claudia Jacova. Proc. ACM CHI 2012.

Usability and the Effects of Interruption in C-TOC: Self-Administered Cognitive Testing on a Computer [Th]
Matthew Brehmer. MSc Thesis, University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada) 2011.

A Tale of Two Studies: Investigating the Impact of Interruptions on Task Performance in Older Adults [W]
Matthew Brehmer, Charlotte Tang, Joanna McGrenere, and Claudia Jacova. Work-In-Progress Short Paper at the GRAND NCE 2011 AGM.

The Haptic Crayola Effect: Exploring the Role of Naming in Learning Haptic Stimuli [C]
Inwook Hwang, Karon MacLean, Matthew Brehmer, Jeff Hendy, Andreas Sotirkopoulos, and Seungmoon Choi. Proc. IEEE World Haptics Conf. 2011.

Activate Your GAIM: A Toolkit for Input in Active Games [C]
Matthew Brehmer, T.C. Nicholas Graham, and Tadeusz Stach. Proc. ACM Future Play 2010.

Classifying Input for Active Games [C]
Tadeusz Stach, T.C. Nicholas Graham, Matthew Brehmer, and Andreas Hollatz. Proc. ACM ACE 2009.

Assessing the Effect of Exercise Intensity on Cognitive Task Performance in an Exercise Video Game [Th]
Matthew Brehmer. B.Comp Thesis, Queen's University (Kingston, Canada) 2009.


Program Committee: IEEE InfoVis 2017 (Papers), EuroVis 2017 (State of the Art Reports / STARs), IEEE 2017 PacifiVis (Visualization Notes)

Reviewer: IEEE InfoVis (2013 - 2016), IEEE VAST (2015), IEEE PacificVis (2017), IEEE TVCG (2015 - 2016), EuroVis (2014, 2015, 2017), ACM CHI (2013 - 2017), ACM TOCHI (2013), Sage Information Visualization Journal (2015 - 2016), ACM SIGGRAPH Asia (2012), GRAND NCE ACM (2012)

Student Volunteer: ACM CHI (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016)