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02-01-2021 | Regular Paper | Issue 2/2021

Journal of Visualization 2/2021

TrammelGraph: visual graph abstraction for comparison

Journal:
Journal of Visualization > Issue 2/2021
Authors:
Zhuochen Jin, Nan Chen, Yang Shi, Weihong Qian, Maoran Xu, Nan Cao
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12650-020-00706-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Abstract

Network data, represented by graph-based structures, are used in a variety of applications such as social networks and disease complication networks. A crucial task in many applications is graph comparison, with the goal of understanding the structural differences between pairs of graphs. However, traditional graph visualization techniques, node-link diagrams, and adjacency matrices are not intrinsically designed for comparison tasks. In this paper, we present TrammelGraph, a novel visual graph abstraction technique for graph comparison. TrammelGraph uses graph embedding and node alignment methods to create a map-based representation that eliminates visual clutter and thus facilities graph comparison. The design results in a planar graph with a regularly-spaced, crossing-free layout that helps users identify high-level topological information for graph comparison tasks. To evaluate the effectiveness of TrammelGraph, we conducted a controlled user study with 20 participants that compares TrammelGraph with node-link diagrams and adjacency matrices on a variety of common graph comparison tasks. We also conducted an expert interview with a physician using the MIMIC dataset. Both the quantitative and qualitative results from the study and interview highlighted the key strengths of TrammelGraph as a tool for visual graph comparison.

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