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  • Friday, November 30: To clarify, you are welcome to resubmit your final paper on Sunday, December 9. This is optional, however. Blackboard has been updated.
  • Monday, November 26: The deadline for final releases and reviews has been pushed until Sunday, December 9!
  • Monday, November 19: I am currently recording today's lecture on HCI and will make it available during the day.
  • Wednesday, October 24: I will be away during the week of November 11-18. For now, I have confirmed Prof. Ji Soo Yi as one of the guest lecturers this week. I will return with more soon. (Edit: Abish Malik of the PURPL lab will give another guest lecture on spatiotemporal visualization.)
  • Monday, October 1: The deadlines for literature surveys and design documents have now passed. If you did not submit yours, do it as soon as possible!
  • Friday, September 14: Please add your visualization links to the Links page (use normal edit password)!
  • Friday, September 14: All of your proposals have been graded and you should received feedback on them on the Blackboard site. The proposals look great this year, can't wait to see what you all come up with during the semester!
  • Wednesday, August 29: I have uploaded all of the lecture slides so far to the Blackboard site.
  • Wednesday, August 29: If you are auditing this course, please make sure that you get officially registered as auditing the course. If not, there is no record of your interest in the course and this will reflect in its popularity in coming years. If you do register, you will also get access to the Blackboard site.
  • Thursday, August 2: This course will be taught starting on August 20 at 2.30pm-3.20pm in EE 224. Please be patient as the information below is updated.

ECE 595E - Visualization

  • Course hours: MWF 2:30-3:20 in EE 224
  • Term: Fall 2012
  • Instructor: Niklas Elmqvist, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
    • E-mail:
    • Office: MSEE 270 (second floor of the MSEE building)
    • Office hours: Wednesdays, 3:30pm-4:30pm (or by appointment)
  • Textbook: No official textbook, research papers (see the ReadingList).
  • Prerequisites: All graduate students welcome. For undergraduates, you will need ECE 264, ECE 368, ECE 369 or permission of instructor.
  • Course Schedule: See the DetailedSchedule.
  • Assignments:
  • Extra credit:
    • Links page with student-contributed links and pointers!

Note: This website is subject to change as the course continues!


Visualization is the graphical representation of data to aid understanding, and is the key to analyzing massive amounts of data for fields such as science, engineering, medicine, and the humanities. In this course, intended for graduate and advanced undergraduate students, you will learn how to apply these exciting techniques to practical problems and work on state-of-the-art research projects that could lead to a publication in one of the prestigious IEEE VisWeek conferences!

This course will serve as an introduction to the science and technology of visualization. The course contents will include both theoretical foundations of this interdisciplinary science as well as practical applications of integrated visualization techniques on real-world problems.


This course will cover topics in visualization such as scientific visualization, medical visualization, and information visualization. The format for the course will be group discussions of papers, some lectures by the instructor, and some student presentations of papers. The grading will be based on participation in class, critical assignments, and class projects. Class projects may be done individually or in groups. Projects have the potential of leading to work that forms the basis of an undergraduate research project, Master's thesis, or Ph.D. research topic.

A partial list of topics can be found here: CourseTopics


See the DetailedSchedule for more information.


There is no official textbook for this course. Students will read and discuss seminal and current technical research papers. A list of readings (in progress and subject to frequent update) is available on the ReadingList.

The following books may be useful as references.

  • The Visualization Handbook, by Charles Hansen and Christopher Johnson, Academic Press, 2005
  • Illuminating the Path: The R&D Agenda for Visual Analytics, Editors: James J. Thomas and Kristin A. Cook (online version)
  • The Visualization Toolkit: An Object-Oriented Approach to 3D Graphics, by William Schroeder, Ken Martin, Bill Lorensen, 2nd Edition, 1997, (ISBN 0-13-954694-4).
  • Readings in Information Visualization: Using Vision to Think, by Stuart K. Card, Jock D. Mackinlay, and Ben Shneiderman, Morgan Kaufmann
  • Information Visualization, Robert Spence, Addison-Wesley

Course Outcomes

A student who successfully fulfills the course requirements will have demonstrated:

  • an understanding of the design issues for creating effective visualizations (1,4, b, c, j, k)
  • an ability to apply visualization techniques to an actual visualization problem and associated dataset. (1,3,4, a, c,e, k)
  • an ability to read, evaluate, and present technical papers (3,6, a, g)
  • an understanding of scalar, volume, and surface-based visualization techniques (1,3,4, a )
  • an understanding of the issues and techniques for applying visualization to one of the following visualization problems: medical, flow, scientific, and information (abstract data) (1,3, 7,a, b, j)
  • an ability to design an effective visualization solution for a problem (2,3,4, a, c, e, k)
  • an ability to present their design and resulting system (6, g)

Assessment Methods

The course outcomes will be assessed through student demonstration of a completed visualization project, submission of working program(s), oral and written presentation of results (literature survey, alpha release report, beta release report, regular meetings of project teams with the instructor, and the final project report). The overall knowledge acquisition of visualization techniques will be assessed by student oral presentations of papers, through the completion of a literature review, and through several initial project assignments.


Grades will be assigned on the following grounds:

  • Paper reading and evaluation - 15%
  • Initial visualization assignment - 15%
  • Paper presentations and class participation - 15%
  • Class project - 55%

Phases may be turned in up to one week after the due date with a 30% grade penalty. Phases will not be accepted more than a week late. Plus/minus grading will be used in this class.


This course has four types of assignments: an introductory visualization assignment, weekly paper critiques, paper presentations, and the course project. More details on these are given below:

  • VisualRepresentations]: a gentle introduction to visualization, this assignment will help you get started in visualization research. It will not involve any programming, but will force you to design and draw a visual representation of a given dataset.
  • PaperCritiques: Each student taking this course for credit must critique a research paper every week from the ReadingList for that week. Critiques are due every Sunday (with some exceptions).
  • PaperPresentation: Students must present three (3) research papers in-class during the course. Presentations should be 10-15 minutes.
  • CourseProject: a semester-long research project.

Academic Integrity

Students must conform to Purdue's policy on academic integrity. More specifically, Purdue prohibits "dishonesty in connection with any University activity. Cheating, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information to the University are examples of dishonesty." [University Regulations, Part 5, Section III, B, 2, a]

Please see the detailed page on AcademicIntegrity. Note that you are responsible for knowing this information---ignorance is not a valid excuse.

Campus Emergencies

In the event of a major campus emergency, course requirements, deadlines and grading percentages are subject to changes that may be necessitated by a revised semester calendar or other circumstances. Information about changes in this course can be received from the course website, or the Blackboard site, or by contacting the instructor by email ( or office phone (765-494-0364).

Please see the detailed page on CampusEmergencies for more information.

Previous Years

More information from the 2010 version of this course here: ECE595E

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Page last modified on November 30, 2012, at 01:47 PM