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Graph and Network


John Stasko
Georgia Institute of Technology

• Connections throughout our lives and the
− Circle of friends
− Delta’s flight plans
• Model connected set as a Graph

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What is a Graph?

• Vertices (nodes)
connected by
• Edges (links) Adjacency list

1: 2
2: 1, 3
1 2 3 3: 2 1
1 0 1 0
2 1 0 1 2 3
3 0 1 0
Adjacency matrix

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Graph Terminology

• Graphs can have cycles
• Graph edges can be directed or
• The degree of a vertex is the number of
edges connected to it
− In-degree and out-degree for directed graphs
• Graph edges can have values (weights)
on them (nominal, ordinal or quantitative)

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Trees are Different

• Subcase of general graph
• No cycles
• Typically directed edges
• Special designated root vertex

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Graph Uses

• In information visualization, any number
of data sets can be modeled as a graph
− US telephone system
− World Wide Web
− Distribution network for on-line retailer
− Call graph of a large software system
− Semantic map in an AI algorithm
− Set of connected friends

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Graph Visualization Problems

• Graph layout and positioning
− Make a concrete rendering of abstract graph
• Scale
− Not too much of a problem for small graphs,
but large ones are much tougher
• Navigation/Interaction
− How to support user changing focus and
moving around the graph

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Layout Algorithms

• Entire research community’s focus
• Good references:
− Tutorial (talk slides)

− G. diBattista, P. Eades, R. Tamassia, and I.
Tollis, Graph Drawing: Algorithms for the
Visualization of Graphs, Prentice Hall, 1999.

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General GD Information

• Good web links

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Graph Drawing Conference

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Vertex Issues

• Shape
• Color
• Size
• Location
• Label

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Edge Issues

• Color
• Size
• Label
• Form
− Polyline, straight line, orthogonal, grid,
curved, planar, upward/downward, ...

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Aesthetic Considerations

• Crossings -- minimize towards planar
• Total Edge Length -- minimize towards proper
• Area -- minimize towards efficiency
• Maximum Edge Length -- minimize longest
• Uniform Edge Lengths -- minimize variances
• Total Bends -- minimize orthogonal towards

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Which Matters?

• Various studies examined which of the
aesthetic factors matter most and/or what
kinds of layout/vis techniques look best
− Purchase, Graph Drawing ’97
− Ware et al, Info Vis 1(2), June ’02
− Ghoniem et al, Info Vis 4(2), Summer ’05
• Results mixed: Edge crossings seem

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Layout Heuristics

• Layout algorithms can be
− planar
− grid-based
− orthogonal
− curved lines
− hierarchies
− circular
− ...

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Types of Layout Algorithms

P. Mutzel, et al
Graph Drawing ‘97

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Layout Examples

• Cool java applet

• Examples of dynamic graph layout

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Scale Challenge

• May run out of space for vertices and
edges (turns into “ball of string”)
• Can really slow down algorithm

• Often use clustering to help
− Extract highly connected sets of vertices
− Collapse some vertices together

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Navigation/Interaction Issues

• How do we allow a user to query, visit, or
move around a graph?
• Changing focus may entail a different

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Graph/Network Visualization

• One of the oldest and most studied areas
of information visualization

• Good overview
− Herman et al, IEEE TVCG ’00

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Graph Uses

• Facilitate understanding of complex socio-
economic patterns
• Social Science visualization gallery (Lothar
• Next slides: Krempel & Plumper’s study
of World Trade between OECD countries,
1981 and 1992

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Social Network Visualization

• Social Network Analysis (Linton Freeman)

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People connections

Charles Isbell, Cobot 26

Saw in Social Visualization lecture

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Perer & Shneiderman
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Graph Uses

• Facilitate understanding of network flows,
• Even information with a ‘geographical’
content can best appear as a ‘network’ rail

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3 Subway Diagrams

• Geographic landmarks largely suppressed
on maps, except water (rivers in Paris,
London) and asphalt (highways in Atlanta)
− Rather fitting, no?
• These are more graphs than maps!

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Case Study

• SeeNet
− Visualizing network data (phone traffic)
R. Becker, S. Eick and A. Wilks

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• AT&T long distance phone network
− 110 Nodes (switches)
Geographical location
− Connected by 12,000 links
Directed, almost completely connected
• Data every 5 minutes
− Oct. 17, 1989

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• Where are the overloads?
• Which links are carrying most traffic?
• Was there network damage?
• Is there underutilized capacity?
• Are calls getting in to affected area or are
there bottlenecks?
• Is overload increasing or decreasing?

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Edge Drawing Strategies





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• Too many lines!
− Occlusion
− Long lines become “more important”
− Can’t see what happens in Midwest
• Solutions
− Use half/half technique out/out
− Draw most important last
− Use thickness & color for traffic

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Earthquake data
More Help

• Shorten all lines so as to de-emphasize
transcontinental links

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Case Study

• NicheWorks
− Interactive Visualization of Very Large Graphs
Graham Wills
Lucent (at time)

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Big Graphs

• 20,000 - 1,000,000 Nodes
• Works well with 50,000
• Projects
− Software Engineering
− Web site analysis
− Large database correlation
− Telephone fraud detection

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• Typical interactive operations
• Sophisticated graph layout algorithm
− 3 Layouts
− 3 Incremental Algorithms
Steepest Descent

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Web Site Example

Circle layout Hexagonal layout Tree layout

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Phone Fraud Example

Shown are
people calling
that country

Length of
edge is
duration of
40,000 calls
35,000 callers
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Fraud Example
Filtering for people
who made multiple
calls and spent a
significant amount
of time on the phone

Playing with parameters
like these is important
because fraudsters
know how to evade

Note the two people
calling Israel and Jordan

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Fraud Example

Zooming in, we notice they have
similar calling patterns and numbers
(likely part of same operation)

Illegal to call between Israel and
Jordan at the time, so fraudsters
set up rented apts in US and charge
Israeli and Jordanian business people
for 3rd party calling

When bills came to US, they would
ignore and move on

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More Neat Stuff

• Lots of interesting application areas
• More details on NicheWorks

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Other Applications

• Email
• How would you visualize all email traffic in
your department between pairs of people?
• Solutions???

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• Put everyone on circle, lines between
− Color or thicken line to indicate magnitude
• Use spring/tension model
− People who send a lot to each other are
drawn close together
− Shows clusters of communications

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More Email

• How about visualizing internet traffic?

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Byte traffic into the ANS/NSFnet T3 backbone for the month of November, 1993
Inbound traffic measured in billions of bytes on the NSFNET T1 backbone for September 1991
Linux kernel

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Focus of Graph

• Particular node may be focus, often
placed in center for circular layout
• How does one build an interactive system
that allows changes in focus?
− Use animation
− Intuition about changes not always right

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Focus Change Animation

Straight linear interpolation
of focus changes not as
appealing as changes along
polar coordinates

Yee, Fisher, Dhamija, Hearst
InfoVis ‘01

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• Combine a focus + context radial graph
layout with a variety of interaction
• Useful when visual information such as
images is also present at each node and
must be displayed

Jankun-Kelly & Ma
InfoVis ‘03

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Navigation and interaction…


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Alternative Approaches

• Recently, researchers have been exploring
approaches other than the traditional
node-link views…

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Adjacency Matrices

Henry & Fekete
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Cluster nodes on an attribute value
Show links between sets
CHI ‘06
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Semantic Substrates

Separate nodes by attribute
Use dynamic query
Shneiderman & Aris capabilities
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More Resources

• Network visualization resources
• Good article on graph layout

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More to Come...

• Topic of WWW/InfoSphere (next lecture)
will touch on graphs and networks too
• Lots of example visualizations

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• References
− Spence and CMS texts
− All referred to papers and web sites
− Dagon and Leahy, F ‘99 slides

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