The Week in Vis: Week 15 (5/1-5/5)

by Mike Gleicher on April 30, 2017

We made it to the end (sortof). So many topics to discuss, so little time, …

Last week was “guest lecture week” and hopefully, was a chance to get started on Design Challenge 3.

Please do the official course evals. They really do help me – and the department. And the department really likes to see high turnout rates (we got over 90% for the mid-semester evals). Go to the AEFIS web page and you can fill it out. As of 4/30, only 14 people have done it.

I really do look at these things. I have a lot of good feedback from the mid-semester evals (you may have noticed changes in how the class was run, and more things will get fixed next semester).

Other that the course evals (please do it!)…

  • We have the last reading (Reading 15). I understand if there’s no discussion (although lots to discuss). Also, it’s a little disconnected from the lectures.
  • We have the last Seek and Find (Seek and Find 15).
  • Design Challenge 3 is going on. Hopefully, the Checkpoint will help us understand how we’re going to get these from people. I apologize for not figuring out the final details – but we need to be able to adapt to what people are doing. Expect instructions this week.

So this week…

  • Monday (5/1) – “Lecture” (if you can call it that – lectures in the room are a challenge for everyone) on 3D. The initial part of the Reading 15  is due – but it has nothing to do with the lecture. We may take some time to talk about DC3 (to let people discuss tools with others using similar ones).
  • Tuesday (5/2) – Design Challenge 3, Milestone 2. A chance to check in to see how everyone is doing, and figure out how we’ll collect the assignments.
  • Wednesday (5/3) – “Lecture” – on whatever topics are leftover (there are tons – not sure what I’ll talk about). Some SciVis stuff will certainly come up. Maybe more 3D. Maybe some low-level programming stuff to help with DC3. Who knows.
  • Friday (5/5) – Seek and Find 15 is due, and any other posts for any of the discussions that you want to grade.
  • And another reminder to do the course eval, if you haven’t.

By the end of the week, we should have a plan for how we’ll collect all the DC3s.


The Week in Vis: Week 14 (4/24-4/28)

by Mike Gleicher on April 21, 2017

We’re almost at the end. So here’s what is happening for the rest of the semester.

Last week, we had “lectures” about scale, hopefully, we learned more than just “the room is poorly suited to lectures.” We also talked about Design Challenge 3. Hopefully, you did Reading and Assignment 13 as well as Seek and Find 13. And you turned in the last of the turn in parts of Design Challenge 2.

This week (4/24-4/28) will be guest lecture week. Both real and virtual. It’s a chance for us to consider presentations and animation, and to work on Design Challenge 3. Reading/Assignment 14 is due, as is Seek and Find 14.

  • Monday (4/24) – Guest lecture on text visualization and set visualization. “Reading” and Discussion Assignment 14 starts (initial posting due).
  • Tuesday (4/25) – Design Challenge 3 Milestone 1 is due. What we want from you is minimal. It’s mainly so we can check to make sure you’ve started, and get a sense of what people plan to do so we can plan to help you.
  • Wednesday (4/26) – In class exercise to wrap up Design Challenge 2.
  • Friday (4/28) – No class! However, Seek and Find 14 is due, as is the later parts of Assignment 14 (including watching the virtual guest lecture).

This class (like all CS classes) will be doing online evaluations through AEFIS. You will get email with instructions. Please do a course evaluation.

The following week (5/1-5/3) is the last week of the semester. We’ll have the usual (lectures and reading 15 and seek and find), and Design Challenge 3 will continue.

I will be out of town from 4/21-4/29 (I am in France for Eurographics and The Workshop of Intelligent Cinematography and Editing. I am giving a keynote talk about things I did back when I was a graduate student. Normally, I don’t travel so much during the semester.

The Week in Vis: Week 13 (4/17-4/21)

by Mike Gleicher on April 14, 2017

This past week, we thought about how to think about multiple variables, and Design Challenge 2.

This coming week, we’ll wrap up DC2 and move on to DC3. We’ll also talk about scale: what happens in Vis when the data gets bigger and harder.

Note that on Monday, we’ll have an in-class design exercise, so being paper and something to draw with. (for those of you who like to do things on tablets, well, its easier to share paper with others in class, so we’ll prefer things on paper).

Also, on Wednesday, we’ll talk about DC3. So you should at least read the description (it’s not totally finished, but you can get the main ideas) and bring questions.

  • Monday, April 17th – An in class design exercise to introduce scalability issues, and a lecture on some of the issues in item removal and aggregation. Reading 13 (which is also Discussion/Assignment 13) is due (the first parts at least).
  • Tuesday, April 18th – The 3rd phase of Design Challenge 2 is due. The 4th phase will be an in-class exercise the following week.
  • Wednesday, April 19th – A lecture on other aspects of scalability (dimensionality reduction) and a discussion of Design Challenge 3.
  • Friday, April 21st – No class! The additional postings for Discussion/Assignment 13 and Seek and Find 13 are due.

After this week… there’s only 2 weeks left of class, and there are so many topics that we didn’t get to. And there’s Design Challenge 3.

The Week in Vis: Week 12 (4/10-4/14)

by Mike Gleicher on April 7, 2017

This past week, we talked about implementation. Which was interesting to some, and not so interesting to others. For those of you who are interested in implementation, it is important that we tried to understand what to implement first. For those of you who aren’t interested in implementation, well, hopefully it was a small enough dose that you got an appreciation for what the rest of us are doing.

The implementation points will be relevant for Design Challenge 3. It is available in draft form, including some initial data and some sample code. Design Challenge 2 is still going on, but you might want to look ahead.

Yes, I am aware we are slow in getting Design Challenge 1 graded. We are working on it.

This week…

  • Monday, April 10th – “Lecture” on Multi-variate data. Alper will be our guest lecturer. He will tell you some things useful for the latter parts of Design Challenge 2. Reading 12 is due, as is Discussion 12 (the initial posting).
  • Tuesday, April 11th – Phase 2 of Design Challenge 2 is due.
  • Wednesday, April 12th – In class, there will be some discussion of the second phase of Design Challenge 2, we’ll do an in-class design exercise. If there’s time left, Alper will help people understand how to do stuff inside the web browser (but this will be at the end, so those of you who don’t want to learn what happens inside a web browser can leave).
  • Friday, April 14th – No class! But Seek and Find 12 is due  is due. And the rest of the postings for Discussion 12.

For the rest of the semester…

  • Design Challenge 3 is coming up – you might want to look ahead at the preview.
  • We will have class on Mondays and Wednesdays, with no Friday sessions. By my count, we will have held pretty true to the twice per week schedule, and few people come to the optional Fridays when we had them. Plus, the semester ends on a Thursday, so the last Friday isn’t really an option, and the other Fridays I’m away (and there aren’t that many).
  • We’ll continue the weekly seek and finds (in fact, all of them are posted in case you want to get ahead). There will be weekly readings and discussions for the last weeks too. Hopefully they will get posted soon as well.
  • We have a backlog of grading… but we have a plan to get caught up.


Some resources (slides and links)

by Mike Gleicher on April 5, 2017

People asked me to update the repository of slides for the class. The Box folder (in the course reader) is now up to date, including what I had for today. Try this for a direct link.

I had promised the intro tutorial for SVG. I wrote a 6 part tutorial for the 2014 edition of the graphics class. If you try this (which effectively searches for all SVG related postings), you’ll find the 6 tutorials and the assignments that use them.


The Week in Vis: Week 11 (4/3/-4/7)

by Mike Gleicher on April 1, 2017

We made it to April – the home stretch for the class.

If you’ve been waiting for implementation stuff, now is the time for it. If you aren’t interested in implementation, we can hopefully still make it interesting for you.

In case you missed it, Design Challenge 2 is going on. You have something due on Tuesday. Get Used to things being due on Tuesdays.

This Week…

  • Monday, April 3 – “Lecture” on Implementation, but also a discussion about the design challenges. The lecture will be a lot more high-level than just talking about D3. But you have reading 11 for that. Don’t forget about a discussion for Discussion 11!
  • Tuesday, April 4 – Design Challenge 2, Phase 1. If you don’t turn it in on time, we can’t count it, since once you see the designs we’ll show in class (and the discussion in class), you’ll think about the problem differently.
  • Wednesday, April 5 – We’ll have an in-class discussion about Design Challenge 2, Phase 2 – I’ll show some designs that might open up your thinking. We’ll also play with some D3 examples so you can see what is going on under the hood.
  • Friday, April 7 – it’s Friday, so there is a Seek and Find and additional discussions due. No class.

Next week… multi-variate data.

Course Announcements Broken

by Mike Gleicher on March 24, 2017

For reasons I don’t understand, the announcements mechanism for this website (that sends you email whenever there is new material) is broken. I think I may need to manual sign everyone up for it.

I point this out because many people pointed out (to me) that the website is hard to use because it doesn’t push notifications to you. It’s supposed to push notifications to you – but I am not sure that it does.

I may try to use Canvas to make announcements, if I can figure that out.

In Canvas news… I think I (or really, a Python script I wrote) just gave everyone in class feedback.

Grading (Mid-Semester Feedback)

by Mike Gleicher on March 23, 2017

Update 3/25: My Python Script should have given you feedback as a comment in the gradebook for the assignment for the mid-term evaluation. The first version has some formatting problems making it hard to read, so I will  try to repost.

I promised people feedback in return for doing the mid-semester eval for me. Since a lot of you did the eval (thank you!) there’s a lot for me to do. The upside is this is good practice for final grades and to nail down some of the things that have been left undone.

Here is the information I have:

  1. Grades (on the silly 50 point scale) for the discussions
  2. Grades (on the silly 50 point scale) for the seek and finds
  3. Attendence estimates from Chih-Ching
  4. Quantitative stats (number of posts, length of the longest post) from all discussions (including the seek and finds)
  5. Some rough qualitative sampling of the quality of the discussions (I read through at least 1 assignment and 1 seek and find for everyone)

I have no information on the Design Challenge (it hasn’t been graded yet)

The measures we have are rough:

  1. The grading of discussions gives most people 50 on most assignments. This doesn’t distinguish the “great” (A) from the “good” (AB). There is some noise (some 50s should be 40s, or vice versa, sometimes late grades don’t reflect otherwise good work, …). But overall, if you apply a robust statistic to it (e.g., drop the lowest scores) it says that a person’s performance.
    Most students are in the “usually get 50” category – which will be an AB or A, as determined by closer examination. Others are “usually 40 or 50” or “usually 50 except when sick” – the former is likely to be a B or AB depending on #2 below.
  2. The quantitative measures are not necessarily measures of quality – but they do seem to be well correlated with the actual subjective reading (until someone tries to game the system by padding their posts – don’t try it). This will be how we distinguish “good” from “great” for the discussions (with some manual checking for validation). We’ll adjust within the grade bands (see #1) based on this information.
  3. Checking for attendance is a proxy measure for actually participating in class. However, it seems that most people who come to class do participate in the in-class exercises, and I’ll assume that you’re listening enough to the monologues. There’s also some noise in seeing whose there (we don’t check every day, and Chih-Ching may not be perfect at knowing everybody). Most people are there “almost always” – so we’ll assume that’s not a problem. For a few people attendance is a problem – in most cases, we’ve discussed the situation. But if you’re a significant non-participator, expect a penalty
  4. Grading the Design Challenges is tough too. It’s pretty subjective. I expect people will generally do well.


  1. The 3 design Challenges will be graded on an A-F scale and averaged. They will count for 1/3 of your grade.
  2. The 15 weekly assignments and 1 Design School Assignments + the peer critique assignments: we’ll robustly average (drop the lowest N ~= 2-3) your “grades” to determine a grade range. We’ll use the quantitative metrics (robust average of [# posts, length]) with a qualitative check to adjust (usually, this will put people to the top of the range). They will count for Y% of your grade.
  3. The 15 seek and finds: we’ll robustly average (drop the lowest N ~= 2-3) your “grades” to determine a grade range. We’ll use the quantitative metrics (robust average of [# posts, length]) with a qualitative check to adjust. This will count for 1/4 of your grade.
  4. If your participation is problematic we will penalize your final grade.

What you’ll get in your “feedback” (which I will try to post into the Canvas comments for the mid-term eval “assignment”):

  1. numerical scores (robust averages of canvas assignments)
  2. quantitative metrics (robust averages of max post length, robust average of number of posts – which are “normalized” by subtracting the median # of posts on that assignment for the class)
  3. our estimate of how many of the 10 time chih-ching checked attendance you were there (we did not count the 1st weeks when there were enrollment problems)
  4. brief comments interpretting 1-3

The Week in Vis: Spring Break Edition (3/27-3/31)

by Mike Gleicher on March 17, 2017

It is Spring Break – so this is for the week coming up after break!

This past week, we talked about interaction and we did an in-class design assignment. The first Design Challenge was due.

The last part of the Design Challenge, peer critiques, has been assigned. You should have received email from Alper. Because we were late in getting these out to you, we are giving you extra time (They are now due on March 31st).

After break, we’ll be talking about graphs. You can get started on Reading 10 and the Associated Discussion 10.

After break, we’ll be doing Design Challenge 2. You can start early if you like.

The Schedule:

  • Monday March 27 – Lecture on Graphs. Reading 10 (first part) is due, as is the first posting for Assignment/Discussion 10.
  • Wednesday, March 29 – In Class Exercises. We’ll do some experimenting with graph drawing, and some critiques.
  • Friday, March 31 – No Class! As usual, the Seek and Find for the week and the other posts for Discussion 10 are due. Unlike usual, your Peer Reviews for Design Challenge 1 are due. (we gave people extra time).

The course schedule page has been updated

by Mike Gleicher on March 16, 2017

Several people still weren’t aware of the Course Schedule Page. Even though there is a button for it at the top of screen (in the menu) and it is bright green so it’s more obvious. I just updated it for the planned schedule for the first 3 weeks after break. If you want to get a start on things, the readings/assignments for after break have been posted (although the Canvas links might take a few days).