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Flow Map Layout
Author(s):
Doantam Phan, Ling Xiao, Ron Yeh, Pat Hanrahan, Terry Winograd
Institution:
Stanford University
Year:
2005
URL:
http://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/flow_map_layout/
Project Description:
Flow Map Layout is a novel visualization technique seen as a hybrid of graphs and flow maps. Cartographers have long used flow maps to show the movement of objects from one location to another, such as the number of people in a migration, the amount of goods being traded, or the number of packets in a network. One of the most famous flow maps, depicting Napoleon's Russian Campaign, was created by Charles Joseph Minard in 1869, and can be seen here. The advantage of flow maps is that they reduce visual clutter by merging edges. Most flow maps are drawn by hand and there are few computer algorithms available. In Flow Map Layout, the authors present a method for generating flow maps using hierarchical clustering given a set of nodes, positions, and flow data between the nodes. The technique is inspired by graph layout algorithms that minimize edge crossings and distort node positions, while maintaining their relative position to one another. The authors have demonstrated the technique by producing flow maps for network traffic, census data, and trade data.

The first image illustrates a close-up of top 15 imports to Spain and France. Notice the branching structure is shared across different nodes, for example Spain, and France branch to the Netherlands, Germany and the UK in the same way.

The second image represents an outgoing migration map from Colorado (USA) from 1995-2000, generated by the algorithm without layout adjustment or edge routing.

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Manuel Lima | VisualComplexity.com