Colin McMillen

Staff Software Engineer @ Google Research
// +ColinMcMillen // @mcmillen

How can information visualization make complex data accessible, useful, and even fun?
— Big Picture mission

I work with Fernanda Viégas & Martin Wattenberg as part of the Big Picture research group at Google.

I’m interested in the intersection of big data and data visualization — I aim to distill and present terabytes of data in a way that promotes interpretation, learning, exploration, and storytelling.


Digital Attack Map, a live visualization of denial-of-service attacks around the globe. The map displays anonymous attack traffic data, enabling exploration of ongoing attacks and historic trends. This work was selected for MoMA’s exhibition on Design and Violence.

Google Dictionary results. In addition to each word’s dictionary definition, we present a tree showing the word’s etymological “family tree” and a graph of its usage over time (based on data from the Google Books corpus — tens of millions of books).

reCAPTCHA, a free anti-spam service that utilizes the power of human computation to digitize books and newspapers. I co-founded reCAPTCHA with Luis von Ahn in 2007. I was reCAPTCHA's technical lead for two years after its 2009 acquisition by Google.


Programming Language Checklist, a tongue-in-cheek guide (?) to help you create a new programming language.

Photography, of various forms.


Ph.D. Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, April 2009.
B.S. Computer Science, University of Minnesota, May 2003.

Ph.D. thesis topic: team-level strategy in robot soccer.
General research interests: robotics, artificial intelligence, & machine learning. (List of publications.)