Fundamentals of visualizing communication networks

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2 Scopus citations


The human brain is built to process complex visual impressions within milliseconds. In comparison with sequentially coded spoken language and written texts, we are capable of consuming graphical information at a high bandwidth in a parallel fashion, producing a picture worth more than a thousand words. Effective information visualization can be a powerful tool to capture people's attention and quickly communicate large amounts of data and complex information. This is particularly important in the context of communication data, which often describes entities (people, organizations) and their connections through communication. Visual analytics approaches can optimize the user-computer interaction to gain insights into communication networks and learn about their structures. Network visualization is a perfect instrument to better communicate the results of analysis. The precondition for effective information visualization and successful visual reasoning is the capability to draw "good" pictures. Even though communication networks are often large, including thousands or even millions of people, underlying visualization principles are identical to those used for visualizing smaller networks. In this article, you will learn about these principles, giving you the ability to assess the quality of network visualizations and to draw better network pictures by yourself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-90
Number of pages9
JournalChina Communications
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication networks
  • Human perception
  • Information visualization


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