The Effect of Alignment on Peoples Ability to Judge Event Sequence Similarity
Event sequences are central to the analysis of data in domains that range from biology and health, to logfile analysis and people's everyday behavior. Many visualization tools have been created for such data, but people are error-prone when asked to judge the similarity of event sequences with basic presentation methods. This paper describes an experiment that investigates whether local and global alignment techniques improve people's performance when judging sequence similarity. Participants were divided into three groups (basic vs. local vs. global alignment), and each participant judged the similarity of 180 sets of pseudo-randomly generated sequences. Each set comprised a target, a correct choice and a wrong choice. After training, the global alignment group was more accurate than the local alignment group (98% vs. 93% correct), with the basic group getting 95% correct. Participants' response times were primarily affected by the number of event types, the similarity of sequences (measured by the Levenshtein distance) and the edit types (nine combinations of deletion, insertion and substitution). In summary, global alignment is superior and people's performance could be further improved by choosing alignment parameters that explicitly penalize sequence mismatches.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council EPSRC