Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 84-116

First online:

A regularized graph layout framework for dynamic network visualization

  • Kevin S. XuAffiliated withEECS Department, University of Michigan Email author 
  • , Mark KligerAffiliated withOmek Interactive, Ltd.
  • , Alfred O. HeroIIIAffiliated withEECS Department, University of Michigan

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Many real-world networks, including social and information networks, are dynamic structures that evolve over time. Such dynamic networks are typically visualized using a sequence of static graph layouts. In addition to providing a visual representation of the network structure at each time step, the sequence should preserve the mental map between layouts of consecutive time steps to allow a human to interpret the temporal evolution of the network. In this paper, we propose a framework for dynamic network visualization in the on-line setting where only present and past graph snapshots are available to create the present layout. The proposed framework creates regularized graph layouts by augmenting the cost function of a static graph layout algorithm with a grouping penalty, which discourages nodes from deviating too far from other nodes belonging to the same group, and a temporal penalty, which discourages large node movements between consecutive time steps. The penalties increase the stability of the layout sequence, thus preserving the mental map. We introduce two dynamic layout algorithms within the proposed framework, namely dynamic multidimensional scaling and dynamic graph Laplacian layout. We apply these algorithms on several data sets to illustrate the importance of both grouping and temporal regularization for producing interpretable visualizations of dynamic networks.


Graph layout Dynamic network Visualization Mental map Regularization Multidimensional scaling Spectral layout Graph Laplacian