Data Visualization

This is the course website for CS444, Data Visualization.

Welcome to CSC444, Data Visualization. In this course, you will learn how, and why, to create data visualizations. Please read the syllabus carefully, and contact the instructor should you have any questions about its content.

A “visualization” is simply a visual representation of an object of our interest. It’s visual: we consume them with our eyes, and so it is essential that we learn how our eyes work — and, more importantly, the parts of our brains connected to our eyes. It’s also a representation; we get to choose what this representation will be, and different choices lead to different pictures, some good and some bad. We will learn how to tell those apart, and how to make pictures that are more good than bad.

Good data visualization involves perceptual psychology, mathematics, and computer science. This makes our subject uniquely challenging: sometimes the way our eyes work stands in way of applying some beautiful result from computer science. Sometimes it’s the other way around: something deep about the math in the data will help guide the design process and let us make a picture that is beautiful, informative, and truthful.

The content of the course is split roughly in three distinct aspects: mechanics, principles, and techniques.

Course syllabus

The syllabus for the course is available here.

Class materials


  Date Topic Materials
Intro 08/21 Introduction slides
Mechanics 08/23 HTML/CSS/SVG Basics no slides
  08/28 Javascript Basics no slides
  08/30 Javascript + DOM, SVG A2 no slides
  09/04 d3 intro no slides
  09/06 d3 joins and scales A3 no slides
Principles   Color vision slides
  09/11 Color vision slides
  09/13 Other perceptual channels A4 slides
  09/18 Other perceptual channels slides
  09/20 Interaction A5 slides
  09/27 Design Criticism, Algebraic Design slides
Techniques 10/04 Basic Spatial Arrangements A6 slides
  10/09 cont’d.  
  10/11 High-Dimensional Data slides MDS article PCA article
  10/16 Hierarchies slides
  10/18 Review slides
  10/23 MIDTERM  
  11/25 Graphs slides
  10/30 Spatial Data slides
  11/01 Spatial Data slides, slides 2
  11/06 Spatial Data slides 2
Topics 11/13 Cartography slides
  11/15 Large Data slides
    Putting it all together  
  11/29 The Human Side of Data slides
  12/04 Retrospective, Review slides