Visualization and Storytelling in Data Science (image from: DataScience101)

CS 529 VDS @ UIC
Visual Data Science

Fall 2020
Instructor: G.Elisabeta Marai (gmarai@uic.edu)
TR 2-3:15pm
Virtual Blended (both Synchronous and Asynchronous components)




Class Information


Collaboration Policy


Piazza Q&A



D3 tutorials

CS 529 -- Visual Data Science -- is an introductory research-oriented graduate-level course offerred at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory, Department of Computer Science. The course was first offered in Fall 2018, as a Special Topics Course CS594, and received excellent reviews (4.7/5).

Course Description: This course is an introduction to key design principles and techniques for interactively visualizing and analyzing data in data science. The major goals of this course are to understand how human perception and cognition can help in the analysis and understanding of complex data, how to design and evaluate effective visual representations of data to support analysis, how to tell a compelling data story, and how to create your own interactive visual data analysis using web-based frameworks.

Content: Learn how to do visual data science research, from soup to nuts, in one semester. Or, why not, how to use visualization to analyze your own data!

This class is open to CS students and to students from other disciplines (biology, geology, history, physics etc.) who are interested in collaborating with computer scientists.

Prerequisites: CS students: programming experience; non-CS students: project ideas. Computer graphics experience is welcome, but not required.

Structure: The class consists of readings discussions, lectures, guest-lectures, a few lightweight assignments, and a final project.

The class schedule, the assigned readings, and the course assignments are (and will continue to be) posted through the class syllabus and through Piazza.

Student deliverables: The students will be required to complete three tutorials and short assignments, quizzes and an exam, read, critique and present papers, and to actively participate in class and Piazza (an online Q&A forum) discussions. For the final project, the students will have to submit a proposal within the first half of the course, a final report at the end of the class, and they will be asked to give a public demonstration of the project.


After successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the relationship between visual analysis and data science.
  • Use the principles of human perception and cognition in visual data analysis
  • Interview users to engineer requirements for visual data science problems across application domains.
  • Apply a structured design process to create effective data visualizations.
  • Conceptualize ideas and interaction techniques using sketching.
  • Critically evaluate data visual representations and suggest improvements and refinements.
  • Create web-based interactive visualizations using HTML 5, JavaScript, D3 and Three.js.
  • Work effectively as a team; listen effectively; give and receive feedback effectively.
  • Communicate orally effectively.