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A heat map view is a view of a particular visual dashboard where sets of data are represented with different color coding, in the same way that a thermal image represents heat. In many of these heat map views, viewers can more easily interpret a range of data that could be more confusing if viewed through conventional means, for example, in tables in a database.
The idea is that a heat map presents complex data in ways that humans can easily understand. For example, suppose that there are values for every part of a geographical map of a state – suppose those values have to do with something like localized volumes of sales. In a heat map view, each pixel on the map of the state represents that geographical area. The computer tabulates the sales for that particular area, and uses a range of colors to color code the intensity of sales activity. Again, it is like a thermal image – where red might represent anything from 90 to 100 degrees Farenheit, the red in the sales heat map view could represent the highest quantity of sales, such as 900 to 1000 units sold. Going down the color wheel, the heat map view shows the lesser amounts of sales with the colors orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.
An intuitive view such as a heat map view is extremely important in modern data analytics. Big data systems allow people to harness massive and complicated data sets, but it is not easy, in general, to understand these data by looking at them, unless they are represented by a type of visual such as a heat map view. Otherwise, the rows of numbers often overwhelm the ability of the human eye to transmit that level of detail to the brain. On the other hand, with the heat map view, all of it is immediately understood by taking in the entire image, and looking at the colors as they are represented.