Vidya Setlur is a staff research scientist, and works out of the Palo Alto office. Prior to joining Tableau, she worked as a principal research scientist at the Nokia Research Center for 7 years. She earned her doctorate in Computer Graphics in 2005 at Northwestern University. Her area of expertise is in natural language processing and computer graphics. She loves pushing the boundaries of product innovation in a principled fashion drawing from both research and engineering.
Her research interests lie at the intersection of natural language processing and computer graphics. In particular, the goal of her work is to develop new computer algorithms and user interfaces that enhance visual communication and understanding of the semantics of the underlying data. 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 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. There she focused primarily on developing the theory and engineering of user intent in analytical conversation to provide analytically useful interpretations of users' utterances among other things. With the first release of the feature and the second release in Beta, she has moved back to research to explore medium and longer term natural language product initiatives at Tableau. She is also passionate about driving telemetry efforts at Tableau starting with Ask Data, and determining ways to instrument and consume usage data to further improve the product.
A full list of her publications can be found here.