Information Visualization

INLS 541, Spring 2013
Monday and Wednesday, 11:00am - 12:15m, 208 Manning Hall
School of Information and Library Science


Instructor:  Dr. Bradley Hemminger Email:



966-2998 (office) 942-2273 (home)

206A Manning Hall

Office Hours:


Office Hours
and by appointment

Course Outline and Objectives
Class Policies
Class Work #1, Class Work #2, Class Work #3, Class Work #4

Course Outline and Objectives


  1. Introduction and Framework
  2. Data Representation and Mapping
  3. Visual Perception and Cognition
  4. Information Displays
  5. Charts, Tables
  6. Multivariate Visualizations
  7. Maps/GIS
  8. Graphs, Networks, Trees
  9. Interaction
  10. Evaluation


  1. To become familar with the field of Information Visualization.
  2. To learn a framework understanding the design, development and evaluation of information visualizations.
  3. To gain familiarity with a wide range of information visualization techniques and an understanding of which techniques are appropriate for what problems and environments.
  4. To learn how to design, construct and evaluate visualizations through extensive practice.

Class Policies and General Instructions

  1. I will always be prepared for class and will start class on time. If unforeseeable circumstances prevent this for any reason, I will try to notify you beforehand if at all possible. I expect the same of my students: be prepared for class, be ready to start class on time, and try to let me know by email if you can't be there.

  2. My classroom is intended to be a place where you are encouraged to share your thoughts, think critically, and feel safe in expressing your views. I always welcome your viewpoint, and will be respectful of your opinion. Similarly, I ask that you are respectiveful of your classmates.

  3. All class materials, as well as the course syllabus, policies, and schedule are available on the web (through our class webpages (this page). Class presentations are available so that you don't have to write down the basic information presented during class, hopefully allowing you to concentrate on the discussions and additional information presented in class.

  4. You will be expected to produce visualizations for your exercises and assignments. You are generally free to use whatever tools you wish. In some assignments you will use specific tools provided to you, to do more advanced visualizations.

  5. Reading assignments should be done before the class for which they are assigned so you can ask questions and participate in discussions. You will usually have at least one reading per week. You are responsible for writing 1-2 paragraphs summarizing what you think are the important points or implications of each assigned reading. Your writeup goes into the Reading Reactions page.

  6. Assignments, including a midterm and final project are the major work you are graded on. You will generally have one assignment per week. Most assignments are to be completed individually, but several (including projects) are allow for group work. You are encouraged to interact with your fellow students when coming up with ideas for, and in implementing your visualizations.

  7. Assignments should be turned in at the start of the class on which they are due. In general Assignments should published on our Assignments web pages by the start of class. We will review assignments the next class after they are turned in. In some cases, I may ask or allow print versions to be turned in (at the start of class). Late assignments: Any assignment received after the start of class when it is due, will be considered late. Late assignments can still be turned in for credit, but will receive less than full credit.

  8. You are expected and encouraged to participate in discussions and exercises in class. I will ask students to explain portions of what was to be read in preparation for a class, to show their visualizations, and to critique other visualizations. Part of your grade will be determined by the quality of your participation and your willingness to participate.

  9. Please be sure to subscribe to the class listserv. Click here to join the INLS 541 Class Listserv. On the form just fill in your email address; leave the other fields set to their defaults, then click Save to add yourself to the list. To send a message to the listserv, you send it to "", and it will be distributed to everyone in the class. Sign up for the 541 listserv immediately after the first class!

  10. Please provide your gmail account in the following google spreadsheet. I need this in order to provide you access to all the google sites and docs we'll use during class to share and turn in our work.
  11. You are expected to bring your laptop to every class. We will investigate and review visualizations, readings, class resources, and each other's work, all via the web. We will also search out information during class. I will also ask members of the class to share their work (or homework) from their computer on the projection screen.

  12. We have licensed Tableau for our class use. To setup and use your acccount, visit the page: First, check your class email to get the DESKTOP KEY. Instructions: Click on the link above and fill out the form on the right hand side of the page. Under "Job Title", mark Student; and under "Organization", please input the name of your school. Shortly after, you will receive an email with a key (sometimes these emails have a habit of landing in your spam folder so please be aware). When registering, be sure to choose the "activate the product" option. If you click on "trial" instead of "activate the product", you will be limited to a 14-day trial. data visualization software is provided through the Tableau for Teaching program. .

  13. If there is something you don't understand, please ask about it! If you don't want to ask during class, you may ask me during office hours, come see me at some other time, post your question to the listserv, or ask me over email. Your classmates may well be your best resources for many questions.

  14. Honor Code: The principles of academic honesty, integrity, and responsible citizenship govern the performance of all academic work and student conduct at the University as they have during the long life of this institution. Your acceptance of enrollment in the University presupposes a commitment to the principles embodied in the Code of Student Conduct and a respect for this most significant Carolina tradition. Your reward is in the practice of these principles. Your participation in this course comes with the expectation that your work will be completed in full observance of the Honor Code. Academic dishonesty in any form is unacceptable, because any breach in academic integrity, however small, strikes destructively at the University's life and work. (From the 8/1/1992 letter to the faculty, signed by Paul Hardin, Chancellor, and John Moody, Student Body President.)

  15. Resources: I make every attempt to use high quality, current, freely available resources for our class. This allows you to always have convenient access to a resource, and saves trees :-). There may be times that I utilize a resource or material from the SILS library or lab during the course of the semester. Please remember that many of your fellow students also need to use the same material. Follow the proper checkout procedures and return materials promptly to be a good SILS citizen.


Assignments: 65% (each is worth 5%)
Final Project:  15%
Midterm Project:  10%
Readings Reactions   4%
Class Participation   4%

As a general reference, the grading scale I use for most of my classes is below. However, for this class, rather than trying to assign numeric grades to each piece of work you do, my goal is to give you as much qualitative feedback as possible (through my evaluations and your classmates evaluations). I will give you grade feedback (H, P[+/-]) at times so you'll have an idea of where you stand. My expectation is that everyone will get at least a P (graduate students) if they complete all their work at least reasonably. (B for undergraduates). UPDATE I will be using Sakai to post your grades to you. As a result you will see numeric grades (equivalent to the H/P+/P/P- I wish to give you (see scale below, values in parentheses). Only if you do outstanding work on most everything will you receive an H. If you are doing poorly I will let you know this, so that you will have the opportunity to improve your grade.

Grad UnderG Range NumericEquivalent
A 95-100 (97)
P+ A- 90-94 (92)
P B 85-89 (87)
P- C 80-84 (82)
D 70-79
F F 69 and below


The INLS 541 Resources Page is used to maintain an ongoing collection of information about resources related to the INLS 541 class. It is very comprehensive and contains information on books, readings, examples, tools, and other web resources.


This page was last modified on Jan 9, 2013, by Bradley Hemminger. Address questions and comments about this page to him at
Bradley M. Hemminger