Saturday, April 07, 2012

Spotted: A Space-Filling Visualization Technique for Multivariate Small-World Graphs

A new space filling graph visualization technique. 

We introduce an information visualization technique, known as GreenCurve, for large multivariate sparse graphs that exhibit small-world properties. Our fractal-based design approach uses spatial cues to approximate the node connections and thus eliminates the links between the nodes in the visualization. The paper describes a robust algorithm to order the neighboring nodes of a large sparse graph by solving the Fiedler vector of its graph Laplacian, and then fold the graph nodes into a space-filling fractal curve based on the Fiedler vector. The result is a highly compact visualization that gives a succinct overview of the graph with guaranteed visibility of every graph node. GreenCurve is designed with the power grid infrastructure in mind. It is intended for use in conjunction with other visualization techniques to support electric power grid operations. The research and development of GreenCurve was conducted in collaboration with domain experts who understand the challenges and possibilities intrinsic to the power grid infrastructure. The paper reports a case study on applying GreenCurve to a power grid problem and presents a usability study to evaluate the design claims that we set forth.
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