During the last decade, multidimensional databases have become common in the business and scientific worlds. Analysis places significant demands on the interfaces to these databases. It must be possible for analysts to easily and incrementally change both the data and their views of it as they cycle between hypothesis and experimentation.
In this paper, we address these demands by presenting the Polaris formalism, a visual query language for precisely describing a wide range of table-based graphical presentations of data. This language compiles into both the queries and drawing commands necessary to generate the visualization, enabling us to design systems that closely integrate analysis and visualization. Using the Polaris formalism, we have built an interactive interface for exploring multidimensional databases that analysts can use to rapidly and incrementally build an expressive range of views of their data as they engage in a cycle of visual analysis.