Force-Directed Edge Bundling for Graph Visualization

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Abstract

Graphs depicted as node-link diagrams are widely used to show relationships between entities. However, node-link diagrams comprised of a large number of nodes and edges often suffer from visual clutter. The use of edge bundling remedies this and reveals high-level edge patterns. Previous methods require the graph to contain a hierarchy for this, or they construct a control mesh to guide the edge bundling process, which often results in bundles that show considerable variation in curvature along the overall bundle direction. We present a new edge bundling method that uses a self-organizing approach to bundling in which edges are modeled as flexible springs that can attract each other. In contrast to previous methods, no hierarchy is used and no control mesh. The resulting bundled graphs show significant clutter reduction and clearly visible high-level edge patterns. Curvature variation is furthermore minimized, resulting in smooth bundles that are easy to follow. Finally, we present a rendering technique that can be used to emphasize the bundling.

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