CS 795/895 - Information Visualization
Fall 2011: Thurs 9:30am-12:15pm, E&CS 2120

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Tableau's data visualization software is provided through the Tableau for Teaching program.

Syllabus

Course Overview

"The purpose of visualization is insight, not pictures." -Ben Shneiderman

The main goal of this course is to equip you with the background and tools needed to develop effective visualizations in your own research. In particular, the course has the following objectives:

  • learn the foundations/background of information visualization
  • learn about existing effective visualization techniques and tools
  • learn how to perform empirical evaluations of visualization systems
  • design and build new visualizations

Note the distinction between information visualization and scientific visualization (which we will not study). Scientific visualization focuses on data that has a real, physical representation, such as structures in the human body. Information visualization deals with ways to represent abstract data.

Notes:

  • This is a regular graduate topics course and will include lectures, projects, student presentations, readings, and exams.
  • This course is a follow-on to the Visual Analytics Seminar offered in Spring 2011. That course is not a prerequisite, but you might want to prepare by looking at some of the tools and readings (available at http://www.cs.odu.edu/~mweigle/CS796-S11).
  • This is not graphics course nor does it have a graphics prerequisite.

Student responsibilities in the course will include reading and writing summaries/critiques of academic papers, presenting topics, conducting a research project, and completing regular homework assignments and exams.

Requirements

Prerequisites

There are no specific course prerequisites for this course. But, I expect you to be comfortable learning new programming languages/tools/APIs and be familiar with Unix. If you need a refresher, see the CS 252 webpage. This link is also available from our course webpage (under Useful Links).

Course Materials

The main textbook for this course is Interactive Data Visualization: Foundations, Techniques, and Applications. It is available from amazon.com and other booksellers. This book is optional.

We will also be studying academic papers in the field of information visualization. These papers are typically available through the ACM Digital Library (off-campus) or IEEE Xplore (off-campus). You can also usually append proxy.lib.odu.edu to the host part of an ACM DL or IEEExplore URI to get access off-campus.

Academic Integrity / Honor Code

Please refer to the statement on academic integrity given below.

By attending Old Dominion University you have accepted the responsibility to abide by the honor code. If you are uncertain about how the honor code applies to any course activity, you should request clarification from the instructor. The honor code is as follows:

"I pledge to support the honor system of Old Dominion University. I will refrain from any form of academic dishonesty or deception, such as cheating or plagiarism. I am aware that as a member if the academic community, it is my responsibility to turn in all suspected violators of the honor system. I will report to Honor Council hearings if summoned."

In particular, submitting anything that is not your own work without proper attribution (giving credit to the original author) is plagiarism and is considered to be an honor code violation. It is not acceptable to copy source code or written work from any other source (including other students), unless explicitly allowed in the assignment statement. In cases where using resources such as the Internet is allowed, proper attribution must be given.

Any evidence of an honor code violation (cheating) will result in a 0 grade for the assignment/exam, and the incident will be submitted to the Department of Computer Science for further review. Note that honor code violations can result in a permanent notation being placed on the student's transcript. Evidence of cheating may include a student being unable to satisfactorily answer questions asked by the instructor about a submitted solution. Cheating includes not only receiving unauthorized assistance, but also giving unauthorized assistance. For class files kept in Unix space, students are expected to use Unix file permission protections (chmod) to keep other students from accessing the files. Failure to adequately protect files may result in a student being held responsible for giving unauthorized assistance, even if not directly aware of it.

Students may still provide legitimate assistance to one another. You are encouraged to form study groups to discuss course topics. Students should avoid discussions of solutions to ongoing assignments and should not, under any circumstances, show or share code solutions for an ongoing assignment.

Please see the ODU Honor Council’s webpage for other concrete examples of what constitutes cheating, plagiarism, and unauthorized collaboration. All students are responsible for knowing the rules. If you are unclear about whether a certain activity is allowed or not, please contact the instructor.

Course Policies

Grading

Your grade in this class will be based on the following:
(Note that these percentages are only approximate and are subject to change, but by no more than 10%.)

Discussion Participation / Quizzes10%
May include unannounced quizzes.
Mid-Term Exam20%
Assignments30%
These are to be completed individually unless otherwise specified.
Project40%
More details will be provided later in the semester. This will likely be a group project.

The grading scale is as follows:
(+ and - modifiers will be applied as appropriate)

90-100 A
80-89 B
70-79 C
0-69 F

Late Assignments

Any assignment submitted after its deadline is considered late. The following penalties for late assignments apply:

  • 0-24 hours late: -5%
  • 25-48 hours late: -10%
  • over 48 hours late: not accepted, grade = 0

This time limit includes weekends -- they are counted just like weekdays.

I reserve the right to specify that late submissions will not be accepted for particular assignments.

Attendance

I expect you to attend class and to arrive on time. Your grade may be affected if you are consistently tardy. If you have to miss a class, you are responsible checking the course website to find any assignments or notes you may have missed. Students may leave after 15 minutes if the instructor or a guest lecturer does not arrive in that time.

Email

Students should activate their @odu.edu e-mail accounts and check them every day. If a student chooses to have his/her messages forwarded to another account, it is the student's responsibility to take the necessary steps to have them forwarded.

Students should also signup for the class email list. You do not have to use an ODU email address -- sign up with any email address that you would check daily. I will use this list to send out important updates (assignment deadline changes, class cancellations, office hours cancellations, etc.)

Classroom Conduct

Please be respectful of your classmates and instructor by minimizing distractions during class. Cell phones must be turned off during class.

Make-up Work

Make-ups for graded activities are possible only with a valid written medical or university excuse. It is the student's responsibility to give the instructor the written excuse and to arrange for any makeup work to be done. A makeup exam may be different (and possibly more difficult) than the regularly scheduled exam.

Disability Services

In compliance with PL94-142 and more recent federal legislation affirming the rights of disabled individuals, provisions will be made for students with special needs on an individual basis. The student must have been identified as special needs by the university and an appropriate letter must be provided to the course instructor. Provision will be made based upon written guidelines from the University's Office of Educational Accessibility. All students are expected to fulfill all course requirements.

Seeking Help

The course website should be your first reference for questions about the class. The schedule will be updated throughout the semester with links to assigned readings. Announcements and frequently asked questions (FAQ) will also be posted to the course website.

The best way to get help is to come to office hours. If you cannot make office hours, please send an email to setup an appointment.

I am available via email, but do not expect or rely on an immediate response.