Novel Visual Metaphors for Multivariate Networks

  • Jonathan C. Roberts
  • Jing Yang
  • Oliver Kohlbacher
  • Matthew O. Ward
  • Michelle X. Zhou
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8380)


There are opportunities to display information in different ways. Node-link methods are common for multivariate networks, but there are a lot of other possibilities. To inspire new visualization techniques we look for novel visual metaphors for multivariate networks and discuss the data visual mapping process involving them, we discuss where ideas come from, and consider the ideation process itself. The metaphors are organized into nature, non-physical, man-made, and visualization-inspired classes. Besides exemplar work from each class, we present a gallery of potential new metaphors.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Balzer, M., Noack, A., Deussen, O., Lewerentz, C.: Software landscapes: visualizing the structure of large software systems. In: Proceedings of the Sixth Joint Eurographics/IEEE TCVG Conference on Visualization, VISSYM 2004, pp. 261–266. Eurographics Association, Aire-la-Ville (2004), Scholar
  2. 2.
    Brandes, U., Nick, B.: Asymmetric relations in longitudinal social networks. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 17(12), 2283–2290 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Braun, A., Musse, S.R., de Oliveira, L.P.L., Bodmann, B.E.: Modeling individual behaviors in crowd simulation. In: 16th International Conference on Computer Animation and Social Agents, pp. 143–148. IEEE (2003)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Card, S.K., Robertson, G.G., Mackinlay, J.D.: The information visualizer, an information workspace. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 181–186. ACM (1991)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Chau, M.: Visualizing web search results using glyphs: Design and evaluation of a flower metaphor. ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems (TMIS) 2(1), 2 (2011)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chuah, M.C., Roth, S.F., Mattis, J., Kolojejchick, J.: Sdm: Selective dynamic manipulation of visualizations. In: Proceedings of the 8th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface and Software Technology, UIST 1995, pp. 61–70. ACM, New York (1995), Scholar
  7. 7.
    Dachselt, R., Ebert, J.: Collapsible cylindrical trees: A fast hierarchical navigation technique. In: IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization, INFOVIS 2001, pp. 79–86 (2001)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    De Bono, E.: Six Thinking Hats. Penguin, UK (2009)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    De Bono, E.: Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step. HarperCollins (2010)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Eick, S.G., Graves, T.L., Karr, A.F., Mockus, A., Schuster, P.: Visualizing software changes. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering 28(4), 396–412 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Fabrikant, S.I., Montello, D.R., Mark, D.M.: The natural landscape metaphor in information visualization: The role of commonsense geomorphology. J. Am. Soc. Inf. Sci. Technol. 61(2), 253–270 (2010), Scholar
  12. 12.
    Gansner, E.R., Hu, Y., Kobourov, S.G.: GMap: Drawing graphs as maps. In: Eppstein, D., Gansner, E.R. (eds.) GD 2009. LNCS, vol. 5849, pp. 405–407. Springer, Heidelberg (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Gershon, N., Page, W.: What storytelling can do for information visualization. Commun. ACM 44(8), 31–37 (2001), Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gibson, J.J.: The Ecological approach to visual perception. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates (1979)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Havre, S., Hetzler, E., Whitney, P., Nowell, L.: Themeriver: visualizing thematic changes in large document collections. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 8(1), 9–20 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Interrante, V.: Harnessing natural textures for multivariate visualization. IEEE Comput. Graph. Appl. 20(6), 6–11 (2000), Scholar
  17. 17.
    Johnson, S.: Where good ideas come from: The natural history of innovation. Penguin, UK (2010)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Joshi, A., Caban, J., Rheingans, P., Sparling, L.: Case study on visualizing hurricanes using illustration-inspired techniques. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 15(5), 709–718 (2009), Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kang, H., Plaisant, C., Lee, B., Bederson, B.B.: Netlens: iterative exploration of content-actor network data. Information Visualization 6(1), 18–31 (2007)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Keim, D.A., Kriegel, H.P.: Visdb: A system for visualizing large databases. SIGMOD Rec. 24(2), 482 (1995),
  21. 21.
    Kerr, B.: Thread arcs: An email thread visualization. In: Proceedings of the Ninth Annual IEEE Conference on Information Visualization, INFOVIS 2003, pp. 211–218. IEEE Computer Society, Washington, DC (2003), Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kerren, A., Purchase, H.C., Ward, M.O.: Information Visualization – Towards Multivariate Network Visualization (Dagstuhl Seminar 13201). Dagstuhl Reports 3(5), 19–42 (2013), Scholar
  23. 23.
    Keskin, C., Vogelmann, V.: Effective visualization of hierarchical graphs with the cityscape metaphor. In: Proceedings of the 1997 Workshop on New Paradigms in Information Visualization and Manipulation, NPIV 1997, pp. 52–57. ACM, New York (1997), Scholar
  24. 24.
    Laramee, R.S., Hauser, H., Doleisch, H., Vrolijk, B., Post, F.H., Weiskopf, D.: The state of the art in flow visualization: Dense and texture-based techniques. Computer Graphics Forum 23(2), 203–221 (2004), Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ma, K.L.: Visualization for studying social networks. In: Dagstuhl Seminar on Multivariate Network Visualization (2013)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Maletic, J.I., Marcus, A., Feng, L.: Source viewer 3d (sv3d): A framework for software visualization. In: Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2003, pp. 812–813. IEEE Computer Society, Washington, DC (2003), Scholar
  27. 27.
    Moere, A.V.: Time-varying data visualization using information flocking boids. In: IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization, INFOVIS 2004, pp. 97–104. IEEE (2004)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Munzner, T.: A nested model for visualization design and validation. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 15(6), 921–928 (2009), Scholar
  29. 29.
    Pang, A., Clifton, M.: Metaphors for visualization. In: Sixth Eurographics Workshop on Visualization in Scientific Computing 1995, pp. 1–9. Springer (1995)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Rautek, P., Viola, I., Gröller, M.E.: Caricaturistic visualization. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 12(5), 1085–1092 (2006), Scholar
  31. 31.
    Roberts, J.C.: The Five Design-Sheet (FdS) approach for Sketching Information Visualization Designs. In: Maddock, S., Jorge, J. (eds.) Proc. Eurographics Education Papers, pp. 27–41. Eurographics Association (2011),
  32. 32.
    Robertson, G.G., Mackinlay, J.D., Card, S.K.: Cone trees: animated 3d visualizations of hierarchical information. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 1991, pp. 189–194. ACM, New York (1991), Scholar
  33. 33.
    Rose, S.J., Wong, P.C.: Driftweed: a visual metaphor for interactive analysis of multivariate data. In: Electronic Imaging, pp. 114–121. International Society for Optics and Photonics (2000)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Samet, H.: The design and analysis of spatial data structures, vol. 199. Addison-Wesley, Reading (1990)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Segel, E., Heer, J.: Narrative visualization: Telling stories with data. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 16(6), 1139–1148 (2010), Scholar
  36. 36.
    Shen, X., Eades, P.: Using moneytree to represent financial data. In: Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Information Visualisation (IV 2004), pp. 285–289 (2004)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Shneiderman, B.: Tree visualization with tree-maps: 2-d space-filling approach. ACM Trans. Graph. 11(1), 92–99 (1992), Scholar
  38. 38.
    Skupin, A., Fabrikant, S.I.: Spatialization methods: a cartographic research agenda for non-geographic information visualization. Cartography and Geographic Information Science 30(2), 95–119 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Stasko, J., Choo, J., Han, Y., Hu, M., Pileggi, H., Sadana, R., Stolper, C.D.: Citevis: Exploring conference paper citation data visually. In: Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Information Visualization, Poster (2013)Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Stasko, J., Görg, C., Liu, Z.: Jigsaw: supporting investigative analysis through interactive visualization. Information Visualization 7(2), 118–132 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Tekusova, T., Kohlhammer, J.: Applying animation to the visual analysis of financial time-dependent data. In: 11th International Conference on Information Visualization, IV 2007, pp. 101–108. IEEE (2007)Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Therón, R.: Hierarchical-temporal data visualization using a tree-ring metaphor. In: Butz, A., Fisher, B., Krüger, A., Olivier, P. (eds.) SG 2006. LNCS, vol. 4073, pp. 70–81. Springer, Heidelberg (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Van Loocke, P.R.: Generative flowers as a language of forms for the visualization of binary information. Leonardo 39(1), 9 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Viégas, F.B., Donath, J.S.: Chat circles. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 9–16. ACM (1999)Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Walker, R., ap Cenydd, L., Pop, S., Miles, H.C., Hughes, C.J., Teahan, W.J., Roberts, J.C.: Storyboarding for visual analytics. Information Visualization (2013),
  46. 46.
    Wise, J.A.: The ecological approach to text visualization. J. Am. Soc. Inf. Sci. 50(13), 1224–1233 (1999), image in new window1224::AID-ASI8Open image in new window3.0.CO;2-4Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Wiseman, R.: 59 seconds: think a little, change a lot. Random House Digital, Inc. (2010)Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Xiong, R., Donath, J.: Peoplegarden: creating data portraits for users. In: Proceedings of the 12th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, pp. 37–44. ACM (1999)Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Xu, K., Cunningham, A., Hong, S.H., Thomas, B.H.: Graphscape: integrated multivariate network visualization. In: 2007 6th International Asia-Pacific Symposium on Visualization, APVIS 2007, pp. 33–40. IEEE (2007)Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Yang, J., Liu, Y., Zhang, X., Yuan, X., Zhao, Y., Barlowe, S., Liu, S.: Piwi: Visually exploring graphs based on their community structure. IEEE Trans. Vis. Comput. Graph. 19(6), 1034–1047 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Yang, L., Gasior, W., Katipally, R., Cui, X.: Alerts analysis and visualization in network-based intrusion detection systems. In: 2010 IEEE Second International Conference on Social Computing (SocialCom), pp. 785–790. IEEE (2010)Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Young, J.W.: A Technique for Producing Ideas. Thinking Ink Media (2011)Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Zhu, B., Chen, H.: Communication-garden system: Visualizing a computer-mediated communication process. Decision Support Systems 45(4), 778–794 (2008), Scholar
  54. 54.
    Ziemkiewicz, C., Kosara, R.: The shaping of information by visual metaphors. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 14(6), 1269–1276 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan C. Roberts
  • Jing Yang
  • Oliver Kohlbacher
  • Matthew O. Ward
  • Michelle X. Zhou

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations