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

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Assigned\\ Readings

Referenced\\ Papers

Useful Links

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


Tue, Jan 31 @ 10:31am - Project Gallery

Take a look at everyone's projects - Semester Project Gallery

Thu, Nov 3 @ 7:55pm - Project/Paper reminders

I've put a link to the Semester Project in the sidebar of the site so that you can locate it easily. Remember to look at the grading section to see how I will evaluate your project. Also, I have not been grading for writing style or grammar on the milestones or other written work, but I will do so on the final report, so make sure that you proof-read carefully.

Tue, Oct 18 @ 11:10am - Tufte/Few pages

I've uploaded scans of selected pages from the Tufte and Few books on Blackboard. They are under the "Course Documents" section. The page numbers should correspond to the page numbers mentioned in the lecture notes.

Since these are copyrighted materials, I didn't want to post them on our public course webpage, so please don't post them anywhere online either.

Fri, Oct 14 @ 1:00pm - Mid-Term Exam

The mid-term (Thur, Oct 20) will consist of 10 questions, each worth 10 points. We will start the exam at 11:00, so you will have 75 minutes to complete the exam. (Come to class at 9:30 as we will cover Tufte/Few Design Principles first.)

The exam will be open notes and open papers, covering topics through Storytelling.

There will be questions from the following assigned readings (as well as from the lecture notes in general):

Fri, Oct 14 @ 12:15pm - Useful Links updates

There have been a couple of useful blog posts in the past couple of days. I've added parts 7 & 8 of Andy Kirk's "The Essential Collection of Visualisation Resources" and a new "Tools from the Pros", focusing on D3 and Protovis. Both are under the Articles section of Useful Links.

And, Nathan Yau has another D3 example:

Thu, Oct 6 @ 2:00pm - Semester Project Clarification

For the semester project, I'm expecting you to develop a piece of software. In the project description, it says "A good project should consist of visualization designs and a software artifact that implements the designs."

Thus, it is not sufficient to use a full system like Tableau or Impure to construct a visualization. (In that case, the project would not be much more difficult that the homeworks you're doing.)

You can use toolkits such as Prefuse/Flare, Protovis/D3, Processing, etc to build your visualization system. The difference is between using a system and using a toolkit/library.

In other words, think about some of the interactive visualizations we saw from the NY Times. They focus on a specific dataset, but are not just out of the box visualizations.

Wed, Oct 5 @ 10:22am - Many Names of Visualization

Last week, Nathan Yau posted a comment on the Many Words for Visualization. This week, Robert Kosara responds with The Many Names of Visualization.

Mon, Oct 3 @ 8:50am - HW 3 clarification

You are not required to use all of the data present in the tables. The goal is to allow the user to investigate the relationship between SAT scores and student/teacher ratio using the data that you have. Is there a relationship? Are there other factors (present in or that can be inferred from the data) that contribute?

Fri, Sep 23 @ 1:38pm - Vis Contest and New Article

David McCandless is issuing a visualization challenge on his blog, http://www.informationisbeautiful.net. The post says that these will be run monthly and that they carry cash prizes!

Also, under the Articles section of Useful Links, I've posted an article by Nathan Yau, 5 Misconceptions about Visualization.

Thu, Sep 22 @ 1:17pm - Course Topics

See the list of course topics and let me know if there's something you'd like to add or find more interesting than the others.

Wed, Sep 21 @ 11:01am - Online Vis Exhibit

Check out the online exhibit - Turning Data into Knowledge - http://www.adobemuseum.com/#/exhibit/inform

Thu, Sep 15 @ 1:31pm - Tools from the Pros - Tableau

I've added this to Useful Links under Enrico Bertini's "Tools from the Pros" series - http://fellinlovewithdata.com/interviews/tftp-joe-mako-tableau

Tue, Sep 13 @ 9:16am - Tableau Webinar

We'll have a webinar presented by Tableau at 11:30am this Thursday (this is during the last half of class). If you're able, bring a laptop with Tableau installed.

Mon, Sep 12 @ 2:15pm - Multivariate Slides

I've just uploaded a slightly different version of the multivariate slides. Nothing huge, so if you've already printed out a set, don't re-print them.

Tue, Sep 6 @ 1:46pm - HW 1b Clarification

For HW 1b, I don't want "textbook answers" as to why you chose one visualization over the other. I want to know what things appealed to you, stood out, made one clearer than the other.

Fri, Sep 2 @ 1:24pm - Tools from the Pros

I've posted a new article from Enrico Bertini's Fell in Love with Data blog under "Articles" in Useful Links. It's the first in a series of interviews with visualization professionals about tools that they're experts with. The first article is on Processing.

Thu, Sep 1 @ 1:00pm - Tableau Contest

Here's the URL for the Tableau Public contest: http://www.tableausoftware.com/public/public-data-contest
Entries due Sep 16 if you're interested

Wed, Aug 17 @ 3:50pm - Welcome and Readings for Day 1

Your main resource for information about CS 795/895 is the course website.

Lecture notes can be found on the schedule page at least the night before class. I should have the notes for the first class posted by the end of next week.

The syllabus and assigned readings for the first day of class are posted on the schedule. Please be sure to read all of these before class on Sep 1.

Tue, Apr 12 @ 8:21am - Class 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.


  • 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.