Vidya Setlur is the director of Tableau Research. She leads an interdisciplinary team of research scientists in areas including data visualization, multimodal interaction, statistics, applied ML, and NLP. She earned her doctorate in Computer Graphics in 2005 at Northwestern University. Prior to joining Tableau, she worked as a principal research scientist at the Nokia Research Center for 7 years. Her personal research interests lie at the intersection of natural language processing and computer graphics. Her research combines concepts and methods from information retrieval, human perception, and cognitive science to help users effectively interact with devices and information in their environment. A significant portion of her work covers the investigation, prototyping, and evaluation of such novel concepts.
Since joining Tableau Research in 2012, Vidya has worked on various projects and prototypes involving semantics and visual representation such as semantic icon encoding and semantically resonant color palettes. She has also been interested in exploring analytical conversation using natural language interaction via a system called Eviza. Subsequently, as part of productizing Tableau's natural language feature, Ask Data, she moved to engineering and was a manager on the Natural Language Team at Tableau Software for a couple of years. There she focused primarily on developing the theory and engineering of user intent in analytical conversation to provide analytically useful interpretations of users' utterances.
A full list of her publications can be found here.