CS 4460 - Intro. to Information Visualization

Instructor: John Stasko
Fall 2017
Mon,Wed,Fri 12:20 - 1:10 pm
College of Business Room 300

Computer-based information visualization centers around helping people explore or explain data through interactive software that exploits the capabilities of the human perceptual system. A key challenge in information visualization is designing a cognitively useful spatial mapping of a dataset that is not inherently spatial and accompanying the mapping by interaction techniques that allow people to intuitively explore the dataset. Information visualization draws on the intellectual history of several traditions, including computer graphics, human-computer interaction, cognitive psychology, semiotics, graphic design, statistical graphics, cartography, and art. The synthesis of relevant ideas from these fields with new methodologies and techniques made possible by interactive computation are critical for helping people keep pace with the torrents of data confronting them.

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • Understand the wide variety of information visualization techniques and know which visualizations are appropriate for particular types of data and for different goals
  • Explain the principles involved in designing effective information visualizations
  • Apply an understanding of human perceptual and cognitive capabilities to the design of information visualizations
  • Thoughtfully critique different visualization techniques in the context of user goals and objectives
  • Design and implement compelling visualizations that are useful for understanding and communicating data

Course Format
The course will follow a general lecture/seminar style with discussions, viewing of videos, and demonstrations of and hands-on experience with InfoVis software. While many classes will include interactive exercises, a few specific days will wholly consist of interactive design exercises. Additionally, multiple lab-style days will introduce web systems programming and D3, and have students learn about these concepts in a hands-on manner.

We do not have a required textbook for the course, but we will make heavy use of Scott Murray's book Interactive Data Visualization for the Web.

Students from a variety of disciplines are invited to take the class. The formal prerequisite is CS 1332, and some prior background in human-computer interaction will be helpful.

Grading will be based on attendance/pop quizzes, homework assignments, programming assignments, and two exams. Further details and the weight of each assignment can be found on the Assignments page.

All students are expected to attend class. Institute approved absences will be accommodated. Notify Prof. Stasko in advance, by email, if you will miss class for this reason. If you feel some other reason for absence is reasonable, email Prof. Stasko, but again, in advance.

Academic Integrity
All students in class are expected to follow Georgia Tech's principles of academic honor and integrity. Details about GT's policies can be found at the OSI web pages. For information on Georgia Tech's Academic Honor Code, please visit http://www.catalog.gatech.edu/policies/honor-code/ or http://www.catalog.gatech.edu/rules/18/. Unless otherwise noted, all work should be strictly your own. If you have any questions about these policies, just ask your instructor. Any student suspected of cheating or plagiarizing on a quiz, exam, or assignment will be reported to the Office of Student Integrity, who will investigate the incident and identify the appropriate penalty for violations.

Class Policies
In general, our class is a no-electronics class. All electronic devices (e.g., cell phones, smartphones, laptops, tablets and similar devices) that can be used to view Internet web pages, or to communicate voice, data, text or g raphic messages, must be turned off and put away during class. Using computers and tablets in a way that reinforces the educational context, such as taking notes, is appropriate. Please notify the instructor if you will be taking notes on your computer. On the other hand, reading email, playing games and web browsing are not appropriate -- this unavoidably distracts those sitting near you.

Be punctual for class. Tardy students miss course announcements and disrupt the learning process for other students. There will be five pop quizzes given at the start of class. If you arrive late, you will not have extra time to complete the pop quiz. If you do arrive late, enter and take a seat quietly. Furthermore, please be courteous: don't talk or whisper to others in class, or otherwise engage in behaviors that disrupt the instructor or your classmates. Since our class runs over the noon lunch hour, you may eat or drink in class if you can do so quietly.

Accommodations for students with disabilities
If you are a student with learning needs that require special accommodation, contact the Office of Disability Services (often referred to as ADAPTS) at (404) 894-2563 or http://disabilityservices.gatech.edu/, as soon as possible, to make an appointment to discuss your special needs and to obtain an accommodations letter. Please also e-mail me as soon as possible in order to set up a time to discuss your learning needs.

Mutual Expectations
At Georgia Tech we believe that it is important to continually strive for an atmosphere of mutual respect, acknowledgement, and responsibility between faculty members and the student body. See http://www.catalog.gatech.edu/rules/22/ for an articulation of some basic expectations that you can have of me, and that I have of you. In the end, simple respect for knowledge, hard work, and cordial interactions will help build the environment we seek. I encourage you to remain committed to the ideals of Georgia Tech while in this class and always.