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Welcome to the CS294-10 Visualization Wiki!

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.



Schedule: Follow links to get the readings and discuss them

Jan 20: The Purpose of Visualization [ Readings | Slides ]

Assigned: Assignment 1 (due Jan 25 before class)

Jan 25: Data and Image Models [ Readings | Slides ]

Due: Assignment 1
Assigned: Assignment 2 (due Feb 8 before class)

Jan 27: Discussion of Good and Bad Visualizations [ Readings ]

Feb 1: Perception [ Readings | Slides ]

Feb 3: Interaction [ Readings | Slides ]

Feb 8: Introduction to Visualization Software [ Readings | Slides ]

Due: Assignment 2
Assigned: Assignment 3 (due Feb 22 before class)

Feb 10: Discussion of Visualization Designs [ Readings | Slides ]

Feb 15: President's Day - No Lecture

Feb 17: No lecture

Feb 22: Authoring Visualizations in Protovis/Flare (guest lecture from Jeff Heer)[ Readings | Slides ]

Due: Assignment 3
Assigned: Assignment 4 (due Mar 1 and Mar 8 before class)

Feb 24: Using Space Effectively: 2D [ Readings | Slides ]

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

Due: Assignment 4 (Part 1)

Mar 3: Attend Ben Shneiderman's CITRIS talk in noon-1pm Banatao Auditorium, Dai Hall.

Mar 8: Spatial Layout [ Readings | Slides ]

Due: Assignment 4 (Part 2)
Assigned: Final Project (project proposal due Mar 29 before class)

Mar 10: Color [ Readings | Slides ]

Mar 15: Using Space Effectively: 3D [ Readings | Slides ]

Mar 17: Identifying Design Principles [ Readings | Slides ]

Mar 22: Spring Break

Mar 24: Spring Break

Mar 29: Conveying Structure [ Readings | Slides ]

Due: Final Project (project proposal)

Mar 31: Initial Project Presentations I

Apr 5: Initial Project Presentations II

Apr 7: Initial Project Presentations III

Apr 12: Conveying Shape: Lines [ Readings | Slides ]

Apr 14: Conveying Shape: Lighting, Shading, Texture [ Readings | Slides ]

Apr 19: Animation [ Readings | Slides ]

Apr 21: Collaborative Visual Analysis [ Readings | Slides ]

Apr 26: The Value of Visualization [ Readings | Slides ]

Apr 28: No Lecture - Work on Final Presentations

May 3: Final Presentations

May 5: Final 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, Tue: 11-12pm 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 1: Good and Bad Visualizations (5%)

Assignment 2: Visualization Design (10%)

Assignment 3: Creating Visualizations with Existing Visualization Software (10%)

Assignment 4: 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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