[InfoVis paper] [BEST PAPER]
Authors: Steve Kieffer, Tim Dwyer, Kim Marriott, Michael Wybrow
Abstract: Over the last 50 years a wide variety of automatic network layout algorithms have been developed. Some are fast heuristic techniques suitable for networks with hundreds of thousands of nodes while others are multi-stage frameworks for higher-quality layout of smaller networks. However, despite decades of research currently no algorithm produces layout of comparable quality to that of a human. We give a new "human-centred" methodology for automatic network layout algorithm design that is intended to overcome this deficiency. User studies are first used to identify the aesthetic criteria algorithms should encode, then an algorithm is developed that is informed by these criteria and finally, a follow-up study evaluates the algorithm output. We have used this new methodology to develop an automatic orthogonal network layout method, HOLA, that achieves measurably better (by user study) layout than the best available orthogonal layout algorithm and which produces layouts of comparable quality to those produced by hand.