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Visualizing ordered bivariate data on node-link diagrams

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Osman Akbulut, Lucy Mclaughlin, Dr Tong XinORCiD, Dr Matthew ForshawORCiD, Professor Nick HollimanORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2023 The Author(s). Node-link visual representation is a widely used tool that allows decision-makers to see details about a network through the appropriate choice of visual metaphor. However, existing visualization methods are not always effective and efficient in representing bivariate graph-based data. This study proposes a novel node-link visual model – visual entropy (Vizent) graph – to effectively represent both primary and secondary values, such as uncertainty, on the edges simultaneously. We performed two user studies to demonstrate the efficiency and effectiveness of our approach in the context of static node-link diagrams. In the first experiment, we evaluated the performance of the Vizent design to determine if it performed equally well or better than existing alternatives in terms of response time and accuracy. Three static visual encodings that use two visual cues were selected from the literature for comparison: Width-Lightness, Saturation-Transparency, and Numerical values. We compared the Vizent design to the selected visual encodings on various graphs ranging in complexity from 5 to 25 edges for three different tasks. The participants achieved higher accuracy of their responses using Vizent and Numerical values; however, both Width-Lightness and Saturation-Transparency did not show equal performance for all tasks. Our results suggest that increasing graph size has no impact on Vizent in terms of response time and accuracy. The performance of the Vizent graph was then compared to the Numerical values visualization. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test revealed that mean response time in seconds was significantly less when the Vizent graphs were presented, while no significant difference in accuracy was found. The results from the experiments are encouraging and we believe justify using the Vizent graph as a good alternative to traditional methods for representing bivariate data in the context of node-link diagrams.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Akbulut O, McLaughlin L, Xin T, Forshaw M, Holliman NS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Visual Informatics

Year: 2023

Volume: 7

Issue: 3

Pages: 22-36

Print publication date: 01/09/2023

Online publication date: 25/06/2023

Acceptance date: 21/06/2023

Date deposited: 03/10/2023

ISSN (print): 2543-2656

ISSN (electronic): 2468-502X

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.visinf.2023.06.003


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Funder referenceFunder name
Ministry of National Education, Turkey