cs5984: Information Visualization
Homework #2: Visualization Design
Visualizing Timed Paths, aka The Bus Schedule Problem
Due: Thurs March 1, in class.
The goal of this homework is to gain practice in designing new visualizations
for new problems by rapid brainstorming and sketching. Your assignment is
to produce a design for a visualization of timed paths. The research
literature is remarkably silent on this particular problem.
The data: The general problem is as follows. There are a
number of objects moving in space. The spatial path and timing schedule
for the movement of each object is known. An example of this problem is a
bus route schedule for several buses. Circular routes may repeat many
times, possibly with variations in the exact route and schedule. You
should assume several moving objects (those of you up to a challenge should
consider the case of very many moving objects). You may assume movement in
2D space if you like, but no less than 2D.
The tasks: Your visualization should help users understand the
routes and schedules and interplay between objects. Typical questions
- when will object x be at location y?
- where will object x be at time t?
- where is the nearest object at time t?
- do 2 objects intercept? (e.g. will they crash?)
- do 2 objects' paths intersect? (e.g. they cross but not at the same
time, so don't crash)
- how can I get from point A to point B with these buses? will I have
to take more than 1 bus? where will I change buses? how long
will my "lay-over" wait be? when should I catch the first
- what will the effects be if I change a route or schedule? (e.g. I am
the bus manager)
What to hand in: About 2 pages describing your proposed solution
visualization as follows:
- 1 page of pictures. These can be hand-drawn with pencil and
paper. The intent here is low-fidelity rapid prototyping, not
- 1 page of description. This should be typed. Include:
- Describe the pictures and interaction as needed.
- Describe how far your solution scales up (how many objects, how much
- Describe what is good and bad about your solution.
How you will be graded: The criteria for grading are:
- Creativity: original and novel designs demonstrating creative
thinking will be rewarded. I don't want to see Spotfire.
- Utility: whether your solution will be effective, especially regarding
the above tasks.
- Lucidity: Make sure that your pictures and description are very
clear so that I can understand what your visualization means and how the
interaction works. If I can't understand it, I can't give it a good
!Important: Focus your time on thinking and dreaming up designs.
Don't waste your time trying to draw it in powerpoint or making it functional.