CSE512 Data Visualization (Spring 2022)

The world is awash with increasing amounts of data, and we must keep afloat with our relatively constant perceptual and cognitive abilities. Visualization provides one means of combating information overload, as a well-designed visual encoding can supplant cognitive calculations with simpler perceptual inferences and improve comprehension, memory, and decision making. Furthermore, visual representations may help engage more diverse audiences in the process of analytic thinking.

In this course we will study techniques for creating effective visualizations based on principles from graphic design, 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.

In addition to class discussions, students will complete visualization design and data analysis assignments, as well as a final project. Students will share the results of their final project as both an interactive website and a video presentation.

Learning Goals & Objectives

This course is designed to provide students with the foundations necessary for understanding and extending the current state of the art in data visualization. By the end of the course, students will have gained:



See the resources page for visualization tools, related web sites, and software development tips.

Assignments & Grades

Schedule & Readings

Week 1

Thu 3/31 Data & Image Models Slides

Week 2

Tue 4/5 Exploratory Data Analysis Slides
Fri 4/8 Tableau Tutorial (Zoom)

Week 3

Thu 4/14 Deceptive Visualization & A1 Review (Michael Correll, Tableau Research) Slides
Assigned: Assignment 2: Deceptive Visualization (Due: Fri 4/22)

Week 4

Week 5

Thu 4/28 D3.js Deep Dive
Assigned: Final Project Proposal (Due: Wed 5/18)
  • REQUIRED Notebook: Introduction to D3, Part 2. (Note: we will work through this in class, but we encourage you to skim it ahead of time!)
  • Optional Chapters 9, 10 in Interactive Data Visualization for the Web, 2nd Edition. Scott Murray.
Fri 4/29 Web Publishing Tutorial (Zoom)

Week 6

Week 7

Thu 5/12 A3 Review & Critique Slides

Week 8

Week 9

Tue 5/24 Final Project Q&A + Offline Feedback

Week 10

Thu 6/2 Final Project Q&A + Co-Working Slides

Finals Week

Mon 6/6, 10:30-11:30am Final Project Showcase (Allen Center Atrium) Slides

Activities, Learning Assessments & Expectations for Students

Readings: To contribute to lively and insightful discussions, we each need to do our part to be prepared. Students are expected to complete assigned readings prior to lecture. All readings are listed in the course schedule.

Lectures: It is important to attend the lectures and read the readings. Each lecture will assume that you have read and are ready to discuss the day's readings. This quarter, all lectures will be in person and recorded. If you speak during a lecture, you will be included in the video. Keep this in mind as you attend the lectures!

Discussion Posts: Class participation includes both in-lecture activities (as is feasible) and engagement on the course discussion site (Ed). All enrolled students are required to submit at least 1 substantive discussion post per week related to the course readings or lecture material. Each student also has 2 passes for skipping comments.

Good comments typically exhibit one or more of the following:

Quizzes: We will post short quizzes to reinforce important concepts. Quizzes are considered a part of course participation and are not graded (your score on a quiz will not affect your course grade).

Assignments: There will be three assignments to help prepare you for the final project. These assignments are designed to give students experience in creating and evaluating visualization tools. See the course calendar for assignment dates.

Final Project: A team-based final project is due at the end of the course, with periodic milestones throughout the quarter. The goal of the final project is to identify a new, interesting and challenging visualization problem, and to apply the techniques and skills learned in class to address this problem. Students are welcome to work on their own final project ideas for the course, but a list of potential final projects will also be shared through Canvas. Check the course calendar for final project milestone deadlines.

Commitment to Fostering an Inclusive Learning Environment

This course welcomes all students of all backgrounds. The computer science and computer engineering industries have a significant lack of diversity. This is due to a lack of sufficient past efforts by the field toward even greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Allen School seeks to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment for our community and our field. You should expect and demand to be treated by your classmates and the course staff with respect. If any incident occurs that challenges this commitment to a supportive, diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment, please let the instructor know so the issue can be addressed.


Late Policy: We will deduct 10% for each day an assignment is late. Please contact the instructors well in advance to request extensions if needed.

Plagiarism Policy: Assignments should consist primarily of original work. Building off of others' work—including 3rd party libraries, public source code examples, and design ideas—is acceptable and in most cases encouraged. However, failure to cite such sources will result in score deductions proportional to the severity of the oversight.

Excused Absences: Students are expected to attend class and to participate in all graded activities, including midterms and final examinations. A student who is anticipating being absent from class due to a Religious Accommodation activity needs to complete the Religious Accommodations request process by the second Friday of the quarter. Students who anticipate missing class due to attendance at academic conferences or field trips, or participation in university-sponsored activities should provide a written notice to the instructor ahead of the absence. The instructor will determine if the graded activity or exam can be rescheduled or if there is equivalent work that can be done as an equivalent, as determined by the instructor.

Medical Excuse Notes: Students are expected to attend class and to participate in all graded activities, including midterms and final examinations. To protect student privacy and the integrity of the academic experience, students will not be required to provide a medical excuse note to justify an absence from class due to illness. A student absent from any graded class activity or examination due to illness must request, in writing, to take a rescheduled examination or perform work judged by the instructor to be the equivalent. Students are responsible for taking any number of examinations for which they are scheduled on a given day and may not request an adjustment for this reason alone.

Religious Accommodation: Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available here: Religious Accommodations Policy. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form.

Course Management & Communication with Staff

Canvas & Ed Discussion: The class will be managed from Canvas. Please look there for updates and announcements throughout the quarter. If you need to reach out and communicate with course staff, please post on Ed Discussion, Canvas, or send an email to the course staff. You are likely to receive a faster response from us if you post questions, comments, and concerns directly through Ed Discussion. If you have a private question, please email the instructors at cse512@cs or discuss it at office hours.

Please feel free to reach out about personal, academic, and intellectual concerns/questions. However, please consult the syllabus or Canvas first for logistical questions, such as when an assignment is due or how much an assignment is worth in terms of grading.

Important Announcements: We will send all important course announcements through Canvas. You must make sure that your email and announcement notifications (including changes in assignments and/or due dates) are enabled in Canvas so you do not miss these messages. You are responsible for checking your email and Canvas inbox with regular frequency.


Questions should be posted on the course discussion site (Ed). If you have a private question, please email the instructors at cse512@cs or discuss it at office hours.

Additional Information & Resources

Disability Resources for Students: Your experience in this class is important to me. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please activate your accommodations via myDRS so we can discuss how they will be implemented in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), contact DRS directly to set up an Access Plan. DRS facilitates the interactive process that establishes reasonable accommodations. Contact DRS at http://depts.washington.edu/uwdrs/.

Safe Campus: Call SafeCampus at 206-685-7233 anytime – no matter where you work or study – to anonymously discuss safety and well-being concerns for yourself or others. SafeCampus’s team of caring professionals will provide individualized support, while discussing short- and long-term solutions and connecting you with additional resources when requested. More information can be found here: https://www.washington.edu/safecampus/.

Sex- and Gender-Based Violence and Harassment: University policy prohibits all forms of sexual harassment. If you feel you have been a victim of sexual harassment or if you feel you have been discriminated against, you may speak with your instructor, teaching assistant, the chair of the department, or you can file a complaint with the UW Ombudsman's Office for Sexual Harassment. Their office is located at 339 HUB, (206)543-6028. There is a second office, the University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office, who also investigate complaints. The UCIRO is located at 22 Gerberding Hall.

Please see additional resources at http://www.washington.edu/about/ombudsman/role.html and http://f2.washington.edu/treasury/riskmgmt/UCIRO.