MAT 259 Visualizing Information(4 units)


Professor George Legrady

TA Angus Forbes


e-studio, Art Department, 2nd floor

Tu & Th 10am-12pm


Course Description


A lecture and lab course to explore the functional and aesthetic organization of information. Lectures and readings will focus on a range of conceptual models of data visual mapping as implemented in various disciplines. We will examine various methods, artistic and scientific, that are used to represent information visually. Students will come to the course with the intent to produce a visualization based on a set of data of their choice.


Week 1










Course Objectives

To investigate the organization of information for visualization

To understand the aesthetic methods of visualization

An overview of conceptual models and methods

To create a visualization based on data collection, data processing, data visualized output

To fine-tune visual communication skills


Visualizing Knowledge Domains”, Borner, et al.


Proj 1: Data collection


Week 2






Intersections of Computing & Data Organization

Scientific Visualization

Data/Information Maps (Geography, etc.)



Places & Spaces exhibition

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Information Vizualization

Multidimensional Scaling” McQuaid, et al.

AuthorLink, ConceptLink

Deep Green Hyperbolic Trees

Visual Thesaurus

InfoVis CyberInfrastructure Software


Proj 1: Data processing

Week 3









Systems of Classification

Organization of data creates the meaning

(Alphabetical, numeric, chronological, spatial, multiple, associative)

Definition of Metadata (how it works)

Data organization based on Metadata:

specific (PFOM) and associative (Spoerri)


Information Interaction Design: A Unified Field Theory of Design”, Shedroff

Proj 1:  Presentation

Week 4







Algorithmic Models

Self-Organizing Map Algorithms

Dynamic Computational Models: prey/predator, genetic algorithms, etc.

Swarm Intelligence

Others from LSIS/Resource


Kohonen Self-Organizing Map Software



Week 5



Research & Production


Organic Information Design”, Ben Fry



Week 6







Time-based Linear Animation

Invisible Shape of Things Past, Art+Com

Study of a Numerically Modelled Severe Storm, UIUC

The Last Clock, Ängeslevä & Ross Cooper

Time Series Analyst, Horsburgh


After the Storm”, Baker and Bushell

Proj 2: Presentation 1

Week 7









Visual Narrative & Data Visualization

Definitions of Narrative

Narrative Methods: sequence, time

Information Organization (Linear, multibranch, Baran)

Definitions of Metaphor

Spatial Metaphors: Change over Space

Form imposes Meaning (medium & message)


Visual Complexity [1]

Information Aesthetics

Conceptual Metaphor


Proj 2: Definition

Week 8




Student Presentations and Individual Research


Visualizing Demographic Trajectories with Self-Organizing Maps”, Skupin

A Cartographic Approach to Visualizing Conference Abstracts”, Skupin


Proj 2: Presentation 2

Week 9


Interactive Models

Interactive Model:Newsmap | SmartMoney

Baby Name Voyager, Wattenberg


Week 10



Proj 2:  Final Presentation


Final Projects

Jennifer Bernstein, Visualizing Meaning, (LSI & MDS overview)

Zach Davis, Self-Organizing Images

Angus Forbes, Experiments in Visualizing Machine Learning Algorithms

Michael Godwin, Data Visualization of Crop Data

Stacy Rebich, A Map of “Learning to Think Visually”

Corina Schweller, Visualizing the Flavor of Data





Legrady Mixed Resources

Nathan Shedroff, Experience Design

Ben Fry [1][2]

Edward Tufte

Visual Complexity

Information Aesthetics

Time Series Data Library

Andre Skupin


Self-Organization URLs



Sandia National Laboratories, Self-Organizing Nano-Patterns

James Hulvat, Research on Molecular Self-Assembly

Theory and Computer Simulation Center


Examples of Self-Organization

Self-Organization in Biological Systems

Gallery of Self-Organization

Cytomechanical Module Abstracts


Swarm Intelligence

Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Swarm Resources

Tony White's Swarm Intelligence Resources

Bonabeau, Swarm Intelligence: From Natural to Artificial Systems

Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation


Cellular Automata

Stephen Wolfram, A New Kind of Science

Historical Examples in Ornamental Art



ALife, "Waspnest" Images & Applet

Dynamic Concepts, Inc.

Joakim Linde's Image Gallery


Swarm Intelligence Systems

Multi-Agent Systems (MAS)

Center for Neuromorphic Systems Engineering


Flocking Algorithm



Self-Organization Systems FAQ

comp.theory.self-org-sys FAQ



Self-Organization in Biological Systems

Further Links



Christian Hubert





Project 1







Exploratory Description of Research Interests



Data Source

Data Selection

Data Format


2.Organization Methodologies

What are the organizational methods?

Any preferred algorithms?

Filtering, Sorting



Any preferred visualization?

Still or Animated?

Changing over time?

What presentation format?


4. References

Any preferred set of references?


5. Workload Planning

In what order wil you prioritize your project’s development?

In what would you like to concentrate on during the winter quarter?