CS 795/895 - Information Visualization
Fall 2012: Tues/Thurs 3-4:15pm, E&CS 2120

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Homework 4: Exploring Network Visualizations

Assigned: Tuesday, Oct 16, 2012
Due: Thursday, Oct 25, 2012 before 11:59pm


The purpose of this assignment is to give you experience working with network visualizations so that you learn about and understand various issues related to import of network data, the display of networks, and network metrics. You will work with the NodeXL package. NodeXL is a plug-in for Microsoft Excel. You should download it from the system website and install it. (It should also be installed on vclab.) Further documentation and a tutorial are available on the website too. Examine them to learn more about the system.


In this assignment, you should import some network that is of interest to you. In might be your email, your Facebook friends, YouTube connections, or anything else that you think of. NodeXL has a number of import tools for pulling in information directly from many of these sources. Alternately, you can find some network of interest to you and transform the data into a format that NodeXL can read. A network on the order of 100-1000 nodes should be good.

Once the network has been read in, explore it within the system. Explore different visualizations and examine different network statistics.

Write a report about your experiences. The report must include the following:

  • three interesting facts about or characteristics of the network
    • document each with a screen capture and write a paragraph about what was so interesting about each
  • a section critiquing the system
    • how effective was it for network analysis?
    • what were its strengths and weaknesses?
    • are there any other features or capabilities that you would have liked to have had?

Briefly describe the dataset you used, then describe the three insights you discovered using the system, and finally include your critique.


Students from last year's class found the following resources helpful:


Put an electronic version of your report at http://www.cs.odu.edu/~username/cs795f12/hw4.html and send me an email when you have completed the assignment.


I will evaluate the "interestingness" of the insights you found about the data. Examples that show it was clear you explored the system deeply will be rewarded. I will also evaluate your critique of the system and will reward thoughtful discussions that explore the affordances of network visualizations systems like this.

Based on homework from John Stasko, Georgia Tech