Can animation support the visualisation of dynamic graphs?

Archambault, D. and Purchase, H. C. (2016) Can animation support the visualisation of dynamic graphs? Information Sciences, 330, pp. 495-509. (doi: 10.1016/j.ins.2015.04.017)

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Animation and small multiples are methods for visualising dynamically evolving graphs. Animations present an interactive movie of the data where positions of nodes are smoothly interpolated as the graph evolves. Nodes fade in/out as they are added/removed from the data set. Small multiples presents the data like a comic book with the graph at various states in separate windows. The user scans these windows to see how the data evolves. In a recent experiment, drawing stability (known more widely as the “mental map”) was shown to help users follow specific nodes or long paths in dynamically evolving data. However, no significant difference between animation and small multiples presentations was found. In this paper, we look at data where the nodes in the graph have low drawing stability and analyse it with new error metrics: measuring how close the given answer is from the correct answer on a continuous scale. We find evidence that when the stability of the drawing is low and important nodes in the task cannot be highlighted throughout the time series, animation can improve task performance when compared to the use of small multiples.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Purchase, Dr Helen
Authors: Archambault, D., and Purchase, H. C.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
Journal Name:Information Sciences
ISSN (Online):1872-6291

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