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Welcome to the CS294-10 Visualization Wiki!

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Visual media are increasingly generated, manipulated, and transmitted by computers. When well designed, such displays capitalize on human facilities for processing visual information and thereby improve comprehension, memory, inference, and decision making. Yet the digital tools for transforming data into visualizations still require low-level interaction by skilled human designers. As a result, producing effective visualizations can take hours or days and consume considerable human effort.

In this course we will study techniques and algorithms for creating effective visualizations based on principles and techniques from graphic design, visual art, perceptual psychology and cognitive science. The course is targeted both towards students interested in using visualization in their own work, as well as students interested in building better visualization tools and systems. The class will meet twice a week. In addition to participating in class discussions, students will have to complete several short programming and data analysis assignments as well as a final programming project. Students will be expected to write up the results of the project in the form of a conference paper submission.

There are no prerequisites for the class and the class is open to graduate students as well as advanced undergraduates. However, a basic working knowledge of, or willingness to learn, a graphics API (e.g. GDI+, OpenGL, Java2D, Flash/Flex) and applications (e.g. Excel, Matlab) will be useful. The final project can be developed using any suitable language or application. While these APIs, applications and languages will not be taught in class, many introductory tutorials at the level required for the class are available on the web. Send me (Maneesh) email if you are worried about whether you have the background for the course.



  • As mentioned in class, Stephen Few has a great book called Show Me the Numbers that has an entire chapter on designing tables.

Schedule: Follow links to get the readings and discuss them

Aug 27: The Purpose of Visualization [ Readings | Slides ]

Assigned: Assignment 1a (due Sep 3 before class)

Sep 1: Labor Day - No Class

Sep 3: Data and Image Models [ Readings | Slides ]

Due: Assignment 1a
Assigned: Assignment 1b (due Sep 15 before class)

Sep 8: Discussion of Good and Bad Visualizations [ Readings ]

Sep 10: Perception [ Readings | Slides ]

Sep 15: Introduction to Visualization Software [ Readings | Slides ]

Due: Assignment 1b
Assigned: Assignment 2 (due Sep 24 before class)

Sep 17: Authoring Visualizations in Flare (guest lecture by Jeff Heer) [ Readings | Slides ]

Sep 22: Interaction [ Readings | Slides ]

Sep 24: Discussion of Bad Visualization Redesigns [ Readings ]

Due: Assignment 2
Assigned: Assignment 3 (due Oct 1 and Oct 13 before class)

Sep 29: Using Space Effectively: 2D [ Readings | Slides ]

Oct 1: Using Space Effectively: 2D II [ Readings | Slides ]

Due: Assignment 3 (Part 1)

Oct 6: Spatial Layout [ Readings | Slides ]

Oct 8: Visualizing Web Content (guest lecture by Mira Dontcheva) [ Readings ]

Oct 13: Identifying Design Principles [ Readings | Slides ]

Due: Assignment 3 (Part 2)
Assigned: Final Project (project proposal due Oct 27 before class)

Oct 15: Color [ Readings | Slides ]

Oct 20: Using Space Effectively: 3D [ Readings | Slides ]

Oct 22: Free class to work on final project proposal

Oct 27: Initial Problem Presentations I

Due: Final Project (project proposal)

Oct 29: Initial Problem Presentations II

Nov 3: Initial Problem Presentations III

Nov 5: Conveying Structure [ Readings | Slides ]

Nov 10: Conveying Shape:Lines [ Readings | Slides ]

Nov 12: Interactive Visualization Techniques for Conveying 3D Structure (guest lecture by Wilmot Li) [ Readings | Slides ]

Nov 17: Collaborative Visual Analysis (guest lecture by Jeff Heer) [ Readings | Slides ]

Nov 19: Midpoint Project Presentations I

Nov 24: Midpoint Project Presentations II

Nov 26: Midpoint Project Presentations III

Dec 1: Conveying Shape:Lighting, Shading, Texture [ Readings | Slides ]

Dec 3: Free class to work on final project poster and paper

Dec 8: Animation and The Value of Visualization [ Readings | Slides ]

Dec 10: Final Poster Presentations


Course Numbers: CS294-10
Instructor: Maneesh Agrawala (maneesh at
Meeting: 405 Soda Hall, Mon-Wed 1-2:30pm

Office Hours:

  • Maneesh: 635 Soda Hall, Wed: 2:30-4pm and by appointment


Your best bet is to order them online.
Please order soon. Readings will be assigned in the first week of class.


Class participation (10%)

Assignment 1a: Good and Bad Visualizations (5%)

Assignment 1b: Visualization Deconstruction and Redesign (10%)

Assignment 2: Creating Visualizations with Existing Visualization Software (10%)

Assignment 3: Creating Interactive Visualization Software (25%)

Final Project (40%)

Late Policy: For assignments we will deduct 10% for each day (including weekends) the assignment is late.

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