Winter 2005

CS 558: Visualization






Envisioning Information, E. Tufte. Cheshire Press, 1990.

Your best bet is to order it online. Please do so soon, since readings will be assigned in the first week of class.

There will also be weekly readings. Consult the class schedule for more information.


Visual media in the form of photographs, 3D renderings, diagrams, sketches, animations, and film are increasingly generated, manipulated, and transmitted by computers. Yet the digital tools for transforming data into visualizations still require extremely low-level interaction by skilled human designers. As a result, producing effective visualizations can take hours or days and consume considerable human effort. In this course we will study how principles and techniques from graphic design, visual art, perceptual psychology and cognitive science, can be applied in practice to create effective and useful visualizations. The course is targeted both towards students interested in using visualization in their own work, and students interested in building better visualization tools and systems. 



The course will meet twice a week. The first weekly meeting will consist of a more general lecture introducing the topics listed above. The 2nd weekly meeting will be student led presentation of  specific papers and demonstrations related to these topics.

In addition to participating in the discussions, students taking the class for credit will have to lead one oral presentation, and complete two short assignments as well as a final project.


In 2002 I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Pat Hanrahan and several of his students including Tamara Munzner, Francois Guimbretiere and Chris Stolte on a version of this class at Stanford. The organization, assignments and even the webpages for this class are based on that class as well as a revised version of the class which Pat taught in 2004. Additional ideas and inspiration come from classes taught by Tamara Munzner (UBC), John Stasko (Georgia Tech.), and Marti Hearst (Berkeley) on Information Visualization.