Monday, September 21, 2015

2015-09-21: InfoVis Spring 2015 Class Projects

In Spring 2015, I taught Information Visualization (CS 725/825) for MS and PhD students.  This time we used Tamara Munzner's Visualization Analysis & Design textbook, which I highly recommend:
"This highly readable and well-organized book not only covers the fundamentals of visualization design, but also provides a solid framework for analyzing visualizations and visualization problems with concrete examples from the academic community. I am looking forward to teaching from this book and sharing it with my research group."
—Michele C. Weigle, Old Dominion University
I also tried a flipped-classroom model, where students read and answer homework questions before class so that class time can focus on discussion, student presentations, and in-class exercises. It worked really well -- students liked the format, and I didn't have to convert a well-written textbook into Powerpoint slides.

Here I highlight a couple of student projects from that course.  (All class projects are listed in my InfoVis Gallery.)

Chesapeake Bay Currents Dataset Exploration
Created by Teresa Updyke

Teresa is a research scientist at ODU's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography (CCPO). This visualization (currently available at gives a view of the metadata related to the high-frequency radar data that the CCPO collects. For all stations, users can investigate the number of data files available, station count, vector count, and average speed of the currents. The map allows users to select one of the three stations and further investigate the radial count and type collected on each day. This visualization aids researchers in quickly determining the quality of data collected at specific times and in identifying interesting areas for further investigation.

The thing I really liked about this project was that it solved a real problem and will help Teresa to do her job better. I asked Teresa how researchers previously determined what data was available.  Her reply: "They called me, and I looked it up in the log files."

In and Out Flow of DoD Contracting Dollars
Created by Kayla Henneman and Swaraj Wankhade

This project (currently available at is a visualization of the flow of Department of Defense (DoD) contracting dollars to and from the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. The system is for those who wish to analyze how the in- and out-flow of DoD contracting dollars affects the Hampton Roads economy. The visualization consists of an interactive bubble map which shows the flow of DoD contracting dollars to and from Hampton Roads based on counties, along with line charts which show the total amount of inflow and outflow dollars.  Hovering over a county on the map shows the inflow and outflow amounts for that county over time.

Federal Contracting in Hampton Roads
Created by Valentina Neblitt-Jones and Shawn Jones

This project (currently available at is a visualization for US federal government contracting awards in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. The visualization consists of a choropleth map displaying different colors based on the funding each locality receives. To the right of the map is a bar chart indicating how much funding each industry received. On top of the map and the bar chart is a sparkline showing the trend in funding. The visualization allows the user to select a year, agency, or locality within the Hampton Roads area and updates the choropleth, bar chart, and sparkline as appropriate.


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