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

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Assigned\\ Readings

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Useful Links

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

Semester Project

Report Due: Fri, Dec 9, 2011 by 11:59pm
Presentation/Demo: Tue, Dec 13, 2011 during exam time


The idea of the project is to take the knowledge and background that you are learning this semester about Information Visualization and put it to good use in a new, creative effort.

A real key to the project, however, is to select a data set that people will find interesting and intriguing. Even better would be to select a data set with a clearly identified set of "users" or "analysts" who care deeply about that data. Select a topic that people want to know more about! I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of your topic and data set. Think about the suite of data visualizations that the NY Times has created over the past few years:

No matter what topic you choose, I am expecting a high-quality project. In particular, I'm seeking creative projects showcasing interesting ideas. A good project should consist of visualization designs and a software artifact that implements the designs. Interaction is key in information visualization, and it is difficult to understand the interaction issues in your project without a running system. I am explicitly not expecting user testing and evaluation. Ideally, I would like your efforts to be innovative and to result in some form of potential publication.

You are free to choose any software development environment and graphics/visualization support library that you want. Consider building a system that is web-deployable so that your system can be shown to everyone in the world!


Students should work on a project in teams of 2 or 3 people. (Arguments will be entertained for a single person project.) Expectations will be adjusted according to group size.

Important Milestones

  • Sep 29 - Initial project description. One-page document listing project members and topic to be addressed.
  • Nov 3 - Project mid-way progress report due. This should be an analysis of the problem along with a detailed design for the system. Describe the development tools you will use. How will you store and manipulate the data?
  • Dec 9 - Report describing the system due
  • Dec 13 (during exam time) - Project presentations and demos.


  • 20-25 minutes
  • The presentation should cover the motivation behind your project, the data set you used, an overview of any data cleaning required, a description of your system, future work, problems/things you learned.
  • The main part of the presentation is a live demo of the system.
  • All members of the group must participate in the presentation.


  • Formatted according to guidelines and templates (US Letter paper size) available at IEEE (Word and LaTeX templates available).
  • Required heading elements: Title, Author Names, Author Affiliations (dept, university), Abstract (Index Terms are not required)
  • 10 pt Times New Roman font, single-spaced, double-column, 6-10 pages
  • Treat this as you would a conference paper - you've read enough of them to know the general outline. You must include sections for Introduction, Related Work, Conclusions, and References, along with others as appropriate.
  • Remember that all figures and tables must include appropriate captions (and should be designed according to the principles we've discussed in class).
  • After the Conclusions section, add a section titled 'Final Thoughts' describing your experience working on the project. What were problems you faced? What things did you learn?
  • This paper must be in your own words. Especially when describing related work, you must resist the urge to copy (either directly or indirectly) from the paper you are referring to.
  • Submission: One member of the group should email a PDF version of the report to me with the subject line 'CS 795/895 Final Report'

See Process and Pitfalls in Writing Information Visualization Research Papers by Tamara Munzner


I will evaluate the overall quality of your project, including all milestones and components. The following questions will be important during that evaluation process:

  • Does the system work, ie, does it read in the data and present an interactive visualization of the data?
  • Is the visualization an effective representation of the data?
  • Does the visualization support different analytical questions about the data?
  • Is the visualization creative and does it illustrate some new ideas? (This isn't absolutely crucial, but simply re-implementing a well-known tool or technique is not so appealing.)
  • Was your presentation an effective discussion and portrayal of the project?
  • Does your report help someone understand the problem and how your system addresses that problem?

Based on project guidelines from John Stasko, Georgia Tech