The goal of network information visualization involves
gaining insight into a structure that may consist of many data
items. Networks consists of nodes and links, nodes representing a data
point, and a link representing a relationship between two nodes. Much
of the early work done in this field came about from graph drawing. A
graph with few points (or vertices) is easy to draw and to comprehend
visually, but currently tools are needed to handled large data sets.
Large set of data tend to have much of their information
hidden. Finding a structure or hierarchy among a set of data points is
not easy, therefore many are categorized into different cases of networks
(acyclic, lattices, rooted versus unrooted, directed versus
undirected). This enables researchers to develop algorithms to perform
tasks on these structures such as finding the shortest or least costly
paths connecting two items or traversing the entire network.
A diagram of a network is often used to illustrate the structure of a
network. Most interface representations include the following kinds
of node-and-link diagrams: two-dimensional or three-dimensional. Some
visualization techniques add animation, distortion, and tightly-coupled
overview window to reveal even more information about a network.
Although network visualization goes back to the 1960's (Tutte, 1963,
Knuth, 1963) the representation is still an imperfect art. The sheer
complexity of relationships and user tasks that can exist leaves much
work to be done. Commercial packages can handle small networks or
simple strategies, such as Netmap's layout of nodes on a circle with
links criss-crossing the central area. Specialized visualizations can
be designed to be more effective for a given task, such as a network
diagram showing heavy telephone traffic on holidays. An ambitious
three-dimensional approach allowed users to fly into a network and
control the visualization (Fairchild et al., 1988). New interest in
this topic has been spawned by attempts to visualize the World Wide
Web (Andrews, 1995; Hendley et al., 1995, Munzner and Buchard, 1995).
Application areas of network visualization include databases (both the
database model and items in the database), software (static connection
of modules, classes; dynamic connection of processes; etc.), computer
networks, World Wide Web as well as hypertext/hypermedia in general,
digital library (references, etc.), GIS (geographic relations between
locations), social and management networks, as well as everyday life
(grocery shopping), etc.
Network Mangament: allow the user to view as much of the a network as
possible in one view so that resources decsisions can be made
Traffic Management: relate traffic from different to nodes to
identify any traffic patterns
Program Performance: display a graph of a program to find any
bottlenecks or incorrect data flows.
Graph Editing: Change the layout of nodes of a graph so that the
network is easier to comprehend.
Relate: enable the user to find relationship among the nodes in a
Shortest/Cheapest path: find interesting paths in a graph.
MIN-Graph. University of Texas at San Antonio - The tool can be
used to instrument, analyze and visualize the performance of multiple
processors, to help user find inefficiency.
Giotto3D. Brown University - Draws 2D representation of a directed
acylic graph (DAG) first, and then lifts vertices along a third
dimension such that the drawing is upward in the third dimension. The
motivation is that upward drawings are more readable because the
placement of vertices reflects the hierarchy. It applies to any
DAG's. The interaction support include navigation (rotation,
translation, zooming), filtering (show only selected objects, show
only the descendents of selected objects, (future) a query language),
focus+context display (graying out objects not in focus).
Visual Insights. Lucent Technologies - general network
visualization tool. It has been used to do geographically-based network
visualization (using animation to show changes over time).
visualization. Graduate Institute of International Studies,
Switzerland - Each resource on the Web is mapped to a vector. A
self-organizing neural network is used to reduce the
dimensionality. Symbolisation (put things that that look like rivers
or mountains) between resources that are actually far apart but are
close after the dimension reduction.
. Univesity of New Brusnwick - GV3D was developed to allow users
to visualize the structure of networks of information (and, in
particular, object-oriented software code) as a three-dimensional
Geometry Center, U. of Minnesota.
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