CS 591/491

Information Visualization and Computational Design


...but we haven't learned anything yet!

That's fine. We are going to do a lot of learning by *doing* in this class. Starting with this first assignment.

Part 1

Locate two examples of data visualization. Write no more than two paragraphs comparing some aspect of these two pieces. The visualizations do not need to be similar in terms of content, presentation, form, quality, or source. You do not need to compare them in every way, the goal is rather to think deeply on some aspect of them. You *can* express opinion, describing what you do or don't like, or what you think one succeeds at more than the other.

Part 2

Create a visualization based on the small data set below. You will submit two things:

  1. Your visualization (either as a web link or a .png/.pdf)
  2. A brief, no more than four paragraph, description of your visualization that explains the rational for visualizing it as you did.

You should in theory be ready to explain the contribution of every pixel in the display.

You can use any graphics tool or program of your choice to create this. You can use pencils and paper. You can write your own graphics library from scratch (please remember you have one week). For this and all other assignments/projects in this class you can use any tools you would like.

While you must use the data set given you are free to transform the data as you see fit. You are also free to incorporate external data as you see fit. Your visualization should be interpretable without recourse to your provided description.

Your description should provide a rigorous rationale for your design decisions. Document the visual encodings you used and why they are appropriate for the data. These decisions include the choice of visualization type, size, color, scale, and other visual elements, as well as the use of sorting or other data transformations.

Data Set

Getting What You Pay For: The Debate Over Equity in Public School Expenditures Type: Census, Size: 50 observations, 8 variables

This dataset contains variables that address the relationship between public school expenditures and academic performance, as measured by the SAT.


The variables in this dataset, all aggregated to the state level, were extracted from the 1997 _Digest of Education Statistics_, an annual publication of the U.S. Department of Education. Data from a number of different tables were downloaded from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) website and merged into a single data file.

Variable Descriptions:

1 - 16 Name of state (in quotation marks)
18 - 22 Current expenditure per pupil in average daily attendance in public elementary and secondary schools, 1994-95 (in thousands of dollars)
24 - 27 Average pupil/teacher ratio in public elementary and secondary schools, Fall 1994
29 - 34 Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, 1994-95 (in thousands of dollars)
36 - 37 Percentage of all eligible students taking the SAT, 1994-95
39 - 41 Average verbal SAT score, 1994-95
43 - 45 Average math SAT score, 1994-95
47 - 50 Average total score on the SAT, 1994-95

The data are aligned and delimited by blanks. There are no missing values.

Data: sat.dat.txt


You may not work in groups. Each student should submit Part 1 and Part 2 by noon on Monday February 3. Text should be submitted as text files (.txt) (please). All submissions should be emailed to pgk[@]cs.unm.edu.