Attending the Vis Conference (IEEE Vis 2020) Virtually

IEEE Vis2020 (VisWeek) is the main academic conference for the field of Visualization. This year, it is October October 25-30.

Normally, I have to scramble to figure out how to cover class during VisWeek. This year, since the conference is virtual (online) and free, I am taking you (my class) with me!

As part of class, you are required to “attend” (participate, at least a little). All normal class activities this week (lectures, online discussion, seek and find, survey) will be connected to VisWeek.

You must register for the conference. Go to the web page and click on the “Vis Registration Virtual Assistant”. Registration is free, but you have to register.

Note: The details are still being worked out because the details of how the conference will operate have not been announced yet. So, I am not making specific recommendations of what you should do, or requirements for class, yet.

Learning how an online conference works (or, one of the ways it can work) is a learning goal. Even if you aren’t interested in “Visualization Research”, you still must participate.

A warning: all of the times listed in the program are mountain time - which is 1 hour behind us. Those 7:30am sessions are at 8:30am here in Madison.

The Requirements…

Before the conference, be sure to register (it’s free, but you have to do it on the web page), and look at the schedule to see when there are interesting things. There are events on Sunday, October 25 that you may be interested in (the tutorials). The main conference really starts on Tuesday.

We are changing the usually weekly requirements to be connected to VisWeek:

Lectures: There will be no class lectures on Wednesday, October 28th or Friday, October 30th. Instead you must attend at least 2 hours of synchronous events during the conference. If it is too hard for you to find time in your schedule, you can participate “during class time” (11am-12:15 Wednesday/Friday). There are sessions (that sound interesting) during both of our lecture slots.

Online Discussion: The online discussion for this week will be about VisWeek.

Seek and Find: The Seek and Find will be about VisWeek. You’ll need to report on something you saw that was interesting.

Survey: The weekly survey will be about your experience with the conference.


Registration for VisWeek is free. But you have to register. Please do it ahead of time! Having people register helps the organizers plan.

There is no fee to register. There are optional things to pay for, but you don’t have to pay for them (unless you want to).

Some Explanations

There are a lot of parts to Vis, let me give some explanation to help you decide what to see.

  1. Tutorials - there are tutorials given on Sunday and Monday, these might be useful for you. In particular, Tamara Munzner gives a tutorial based on her book on Sunday morning.

  2. Workshops - these are minor events, co-located with the main conference on Sunday and Monday. They are less selective than the main conference. They are an interesting place to see preliminary work.

  3. Paper Sessions - this is the “central piece” of the conference. Like most fields in CS (but not outside of CS), conference papers are the premier venue for visualization research. The conference proceedings is published as a special issue of the top journal in the field. Getting a paper into the conference is (at least) as big a deal as getting a paper into other issues of the journal. In a bit of reverse

  4. Posters - posters are a non-selective venue (almost everyone who submit a poster is allowed to present), but it can be an interesting place to see emerging ideas and student projects. At the virtual conference, these are held asynchronously.

  5. Fast Forward - the fast forward is a special session where each paper presentation gives a short (usually just 30 seconds!) video as an advertisement for their paper/talk.

  6. Special Sessions - there are special sessions, with Keynote and Capstone talks (highly recommended, they usually get good speakers), the Best Paper Presentations (usually good, because the papers are good and the presenters know a lot of people will be watching), and other things.