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The mental map and memorability in dynamic graphs

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2 Author(s)
Archambault, D. ; Clique Strategic Res. Cluster, Univ. Coll. Dublin, Dublin, Ireland ; Purchase, H.C.

In dynamic graph drawing, preserving the mental map, or ensuring that the location of nodes do not change significantly as the information evolves over time is considered an important property by algorithm designers. Many prior experiments have attempted to verify this principle, with surprisingly little success. These experiments have used several different algorithmic methods, a variety of graph interpretation questions on both real and fabricated data, and different presentation methods. However, none of the results have conclusively demonstrated the importance of mental map preservation on task performance. Our experiment measures the efficacy of the dynamic graph drawing in a different manner: we look at how memorable the evolving graph is, rather than how easy it is to interpret. As observed in the previous studies, we found no significant difference in terms of response time or error rate when preserving the mental map. While preserving the mental map is a good idea in principle, we find that it may not always support performance. However, our qualitative data suggests that, in terms of the user's perception, preserving the mental map makes memorability tasks easier. Our qualitative data also suggests that there may be two features of the dynamic graph drawing that may assist in their memorability: interesting subgraphs that remain visible over time and interesting patterns in node movement. The former is supported by preserving the mental map while the latter is not.

Published in:

Visualization Symposium (PacificVis), 2012 IEEE Pacific

Date of Conference:

Feb. 28 2012-March 2 2012