Computer Graphics

University of California - Berkeley

Generalized Selection via Interactive Query Relaxation


Selection is a fundamental task in interactive applications, typically performed by clicking or lassoing items of interest. However, users may require more nuanced forms of selection. Selecting regions or attributes may be more important than selecting individual items. Selections may be over dynamic items and selections might be more easily created by relaxing simpler selections (e.g., "select all items like this one"). Creating such selections requires that interfaces model the declarative structure of the selection, not just individually selected items. We present direct manipulation techniques that couple declarative selection queries with a query relaxation engine that enables users to interactively generalize their selections. We apply our selection techniques in both information visualization and graphics editing applications, enabling generalized selection over both static and dynamic interface objects. A controlled study finds that users create more accurate selection queries when using our generalization techniques.


Jeffrey Heer, Maneesh Agrawala, and Wesley Willett. "Generalized Selection via Interactive Query Relaxation". ACM Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), pages 959–968, 2008.

Supplemental Material

For further details, please see the project page hosted on the Visualization Lab website at