CS 725/825 - Information Visualization
Fall 2017: Fridays, 8:30-11:00am, E&CS 2120

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

Visualization Implementation 5

Due: October 13, 2017 before 8:30am
You have 2 weeks to complete this assignment.

The goals of this week's assignment are to

  • become familiar with the use of fundamental charts
  • become familiar with the relationship between analytical questions, data querying, data abstraction and charting
  • learn how to use Tableau to explore a new data set and to build a narrative out of it

Many thanks to Enrico Bertini (http://enrico.bertini.io/teaching/) for sharing this "Data Analysis" exercise.

How do you know if you are on the right track? You can easily think of which data attributes and charts may be helpful in researching the question you have. You do not have major problems in translating the ideas/questions you have into instructions in Tableau.

Background Story

Every year in New York State over 10,000 parole eligible prisoners appear in front of the Parole Board and are denied release. Many legal experts argue that there is little reason to the way that the New York State Parole Board makes these decisions. In response to this problem, Nikki Zeichner (a lawyer and ex criminal defense attorney) built a dataset of New York State Parole Board hearings based on publicly published parole hearing records scraped from the Parole Board's website.

Through analyzing this dataset, she hopes to uncover new information about patterns in parole board determinations. She also anticipates to uncover new information about how incarceration impacts different people, how people convicted of crimes change over time, and what types of prison programming proves most successful. You can read more about this project at http://www.parolehearingdata.org (read the documentation carefully).


Download a local copy of parole-dataset.csv. This is a set of over 30,000 records from the Parole Board's website in CSV format. The Inmate Information Data Definitions from the Parole Board’s website will help to clarify the meaning of each data field.


  1. Explore this data set with Tableau and identify useful information about how the parole system works in New York. Your task is to surprise Nikki with your discoveries!
  2. Create a document writing a story of what you found and describing your findings through charts generated with Tableau. The story has to include at least 5 individual charts.
  3. This document must be written in LaTeX -- think of this as practice for your final report
    I am providing vi5-template.tex as an example (PDF produced). Make sure that you change the filename and insert your own name and email in the appropriate places. To compile this, you also need the following resources:

Data Analysis Vs. Presentation

As you develop the results you need for this homework, think about the difference and relationship between data analysis and presentation. What are the most important goals in analysis? And what are the most important ones in presentation?

Note that not all charts you explore in Tableau during your analysis necessarily have to be in your final document. Analysis often leads you to some dead ends. Select only those charts that together tell a coherent story about your findings.

Details on how to write the story

  1. Write a short introduction explaining what the goal of your analysis is.
  2. Structure the document as a sequence of images and text, images and text, images and text, etc.
  3. For each chart specify:
    • Question: What question each chart addresses
    • Findings: What you can see in the chart that is useful/interesting for your analysis;
    • Follow-up: How such analysis leads to the generation of the new question and chart that follow;
  4. Write a section called "Conclusion", in which you summarize your main findings in a few sentences.

IMPORTANT! Make sure that your document reads like a coherent story, not like a "patchwork" of unrelated images/charts.

How the assignment is evaluated

The parameters used for evaluation are:

  • Adherence to the instructions provided above
  • How well the charts answer the stated questions
  • How correctly the charts are interpreted
  • How well the charts communicate your findings
  • How coherent the presented story is


Submit both your LaTeX source file (.tex) and the final PDF in Blackboard

  • Click on VI5 under Visualization Implementations
  • Under "Assignment Submission" and "Attach Files", click the "Browse My Computer" button.
    • I only want 2 files -- .tex and .pdf
  • Make sure to "Submit" your assignment.