Bipartite Network gets a Makeover

I guess my research is slowly changing focus and is more and more about some kind of data science (although I still bill myself as a physicist turned network scientist). While statistics and mathematical models are still driving this type of research, an increasingly important part of data science is visualization – finding neat ways to display subtle and complicated mathematical concepts in a way that is immediately understandable.

Sometimes, however, visualization can be completely gratuitous eye-candy. Last week, I played around with displaying a weighted bipartite network. One of the default layouts looked something like this:

Adding Bezier curves, more pleasing node shapes, and a little color, the final network comes across slightly more pleasing to the eye (in my opinion, anyway):

Stay tuned for the next episode of ‘Pimp my Network’.

4 responses to “Bipartite Network gets a Makeover”

  1. So, would you say that the second image is “eye candy?” Because I’d argue that, while this one may indeed be more pleasing to the eye, the big difference is in informational content. The second image uses the available cognitive bandwidth more effectively, by adding color to distinguish edges from different nodes. Whether the curves actually improve the communicative value is more debatable, although I think they probably do make a bit better by clarifying the origin of each cluster of edges.

    Infovis is at its best when we see these unions of form and function. I think that the goal (which the second image achieves) should be not “eye candy,” but a nice juicy “eye steak”: delicious, but also full of nutrition.

    • I stand corrected 🙂

      A couple of points: I like the idea of “eye-steak”. Also, I have to agree that color in the second version adds information. That being said, I grew up with figures looking something like this:


      So I still feel guilty whenever I use colors, etc. Perhaps that’s why I call the second image “eye-candy”.

  2. Well of course. We all know that knowledge should be presented in as grim and industrial a fashion as possible. That’s how you know it’s serious 🙂

    I love that second image; keep up the good work!

  3. Hi Sune,

    I just saw you’re coming to ECCS and you’re organizing this most faszinating satellite meeting on HTH. Looks like the next big thing to do 🙂 I hope I can sneak in for some of the talks.

    See you in Lisboa,

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