CS 424: Visualization and Visual Analytics - Spring 2020

Andy Johnson

Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL)
2032 Engineering Research Facility (ERF)

(312) 996-3002

40669(u) / 40670(g) Lecture - 3:30 - 4:45 Tuesday and Thursday in 2068 ERF
office hours: 4:45 - 6:00 Tuesday and Thursday in 2032 ERF and by appointment

TA:  - Abeer Alsaiari aalsai3@uic.edu
office hours: T 12-1 in 2068 ERF


There are 3 optional textbooks.  All of the class material is available at https://www.evl.uic.edu/aej/424/

Information Visualization, 3rd ed. -  Perception for Design

Colin Ware

Morgan Kaufmann
ISBN: 978-0123814647
$60 hardcover

Visualization Analysis and Design

Tamara Munzner

AK Peters
ISBN: 978-1466508910
$67 hardcover
R for Data Science

Garrett Grolemund
Hadley Wickham

O'Reilly Media
$18 paperback


We may be having some guest lectures so the topics may shift around to accommodate their schedules

1   -  1/14 & 1/16

Intro to Visualization
2   -  1/21 & 1/23
P1 out
Intro to R and Shiny
3   -  1/28 & 1/30

The Basics
4   -  2/4 & 2/6

Information Visualization
5   -  2/11 & 2/13
P1 due, P2 out 🎤 P1 Presentations 🎤
6   -  2/18 & 2/20

Geo-spatial Visualization
7   -  2/25 & 2/27

Privacy & Uncertainty
8   -  3/3 & 3/5
P2 alpha due Social Network Visualization & Data Transforms
9   -  3/10 & 3/12

Medical & Scientific Visualization
🌴 Spring Break 🌴 🌴 Spring Break 🌴 🌴 Spring Break 🌴
🌴 Spring Break 🌴
🌴 Spring Break 🌴 🌴 Spring Break 🌴
11 -  3/31 & 4/2
P2 due, VC topic due,
P3 out
🎤 P2 Presentations 🎤
12 -  4/7 & 4/9

Dynamic Data & Animation & Visual Analytics
13 -  4/14 & 4/16
VC webpage due
🎤 Viewers Choice Presentations 🎤
14 -  4/21 & 4/23
course evals out
🎤 Viewers Choice Presentations 🎤
15 -  4/28 & 4/30
P3 due
🎤 P3 Presentations 🎤

"We have so much time and so little to do! No! Wait! Strike that! Reverse it!" -- Willy Wonka


You should have passed CS 251 (Data Structures) and have a solid grasp of programming in a language like C / C++ / Java  / Python and basic data structures to be able to implement the visualization projects in the course. It would also help to have taken CS 342 Software Design for experience writing code in groups, testing, version control, and patterns.

Standard departmental disclaimer: If you do not have the prerequisites for this course make sure that you drop this course right away. The department will verify the prerequisites for all students registered in this course during the first few weeks of the term and if you do not have the prerequisites, you will be notified and dropped from the course after the normal drop/add period. By that time, you will not be able to enroll in any new course.


This course is going to focus on the basics of visualization, specifics of scientific visualization, information visualization, medical visualization, and the effective use of interactive visualization for analytical reasoning.


Attendance is very important, but not mandatory. Part of your grade will be based on your in-class participation (i.e. asking good questions, making good comments) so please take that into account.

I will occasionally send out emails to the class using your UIC email address so please make sure that you are checking for email from that account every day or two. 

UIC Wi-Fi should work in the classroom.

I will be putting all of my notes on the web, however these notes should not be considered official until the day of class. If I make any major changes to a page afterwards, then I will announce it in class, but note that at the bottom of each page is a modification date so you should be able to tell when the notes were last modified. I try to ensure that the notes on the web accurately reflect the lecture, but its what is discussed in class that counts, not what's written in the notes.

"Those who are absent are always wrong." - African proverb


The best way to learn how to make visualizations is to make visualizations. There will be several projects, a presentation on a visualization of your choice, and points for class participation.

You will be making a short presentation about each of your projects to the class. If the project is not done then you can't present it so late assignments lose 50% per day - if something is turned in within 24 hours after the deadline then the max score is 50 points out of 100; after that its a 0. Assignment deadlines will not be extended for any reason other than a headline in the Tribune or Sun Times describing an army of undead ghouls walking the streets of Chicago eating people. In order to get an A a student must get a passing grade on all 3 the projects, and to get a B a student must get a passing grade on at least 2 of the projects.

The first project will be an individual project. The remaining projects will be group projects. Individual grades on the projects will be based on the quality of the work turned in and on the reviews that each student receives from his/her team members throughout the course.

At the end of the class each student will choose a current interesting and informative interactive visualization (subject to approval by Andy) and present that visualization to the class.

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand" - Chinese proverb


The University of Illinois at Chicago is committed to maintaining a barrier-free environment so that individuals with disabilities can fully access programs, courses, services, and activities at UIC. Students with disabilities who require accommodations for full access and participation in UIC Programs must be registered with the Disability Resource Center (312) 413-2183 (voice) or (312) 413- 0123 (TDD).

The University Holidays and Religious Observances calendar can be found online at http://oae.uic.edu/religious-calendar/

You (and your group) are expected to do all your own design and implementation work. Cheating is bad; if you are caught cheating at minimum the punishment will be that you will get a failing grade for the entire course.


The final grade will be calculated as follows:

Projects 1-3:          750 points
Viewers Choice talk: 100 points

Class Participation:
150 points
Total: 1000 points
A: 880 - 1000 points
B: 770 - 879 points

C: 660 - 769 points
D: 550 - 659 points
F: 000 - 499 points

last revision: 4/16/20
- added week for course evaluations going out to students