The study of microstructure and its relation to properties and performance is the defining concept in the field of materials science and engineering. Despite the paramount importance of microstructure to the field, a rigorous systematic framework for the quantitative comparison of microstructures from different material classes has yet to be adopted. In this paper, the authors develop and present a novel microstructure quantification framework that facilitates the visualization of complex microstructure relationships, both within a material class and across multiple material classes. This framework, based on the stochastic process representation of microstructure, serves as a natural environment for developing relational statistical analyses, for establishing quantitative microstructure descriptors. In addition, it will be shown that this new framework can be used to link microstructure visualizations with properties to develop reduced-order microstructure-property linkages and performance models. © 2013, Niezgoda et al.; licensee Springer.