Visual Encoding of Dissimilarity Data via Topology-Preserving Map Deformation

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Bouts, Q. W. ; Dwyer, T. ; Dykes, J. ; Speckmann, B. ; Goodwin, S. ; Henry-Riche, N. ; Carpendale, S. ; Liebman, A. (2016)

We present an efficient technique for topology-preserving map deformation and apply it to the visualization of dissimilarity data in a geographic context. Map deformation techniques such as value-by-area cartograms are well studied. However, using deformation to highlight (dis)similarity between locations on a map in terms of their underlying data attributes is novel. We also identify an alternative way to represent dissimilarities on a map through the use of visual overlays. These overlays are complementary to deformation techniques and enable us to assess the quality of the deformation as well as to explore the design space of blending the two methods. Finally, we demonstrate how these techniques can be useful in several-quite different-applied contexts: travel-time visualization, social demographics research and understanding energy flowing in a wide-area power-grid.
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