Technological frontiers and embeddings -- A visualization approach

Scott Cunningham, Jan H Kwakkel, Sertac Oruc

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The chapter concerns the measurement and forecasting of technological change, a topic relevant to many high-tech organizations and their customers. We revisit recent and classic data sets from technology forecasting data envelopment analysis (TFDEA) research and technometrics in light of a new visualization technique known as t-Distributed Stochastic Neighbor Embedding (t-SNE). The technique is a nonlinear visualization technique for preserving local structure in high-dimensional spaces of data. The technique may be classified as a form of topological data analysis. Specifically, each point in the space represents a potential technological design or implementation, and each line segment in the space represents a local measure of technological improvement or degradation. We hypothesize six distinct kinds of performance development in technology within this space, including the frontier, the fold, the salient, the soliton, and the lock-in. Then we examine the spaces to determine which kinds of development are the best explanations for observed development. The technique is not extrapolative and therefore cannot fully supplant the existing technometric methods. Nonetheless the approach offers a useful diagnostic to the existing technometric methods and may help advance theories of technological development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInnovation Discovery
Subtitle of host publicationNetwork analysis of research and invention activity for technology management
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • technological change
  • technological development
  • electric vehicles
  • design
  • visualisation

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