CMSC 436/636: 
Data Visualization

Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Department 
University of Maryland Baltimore County

Autumn 2013

Time: TR 1:00-2:15  Sondheim 101


Dr. Penny Rheingans, 355 / 452 ITE, rheingan AT, Phone:(410)455-3554 / 2809

Office Hours: Tue 11:30-1pm, ITE 355; by appt.

This course will cover topics in visualization: the visual representation of large amounts of data. The format for the course will include group discussions of papers, lectures by the instructor, in-class exercises, and student presentations of projects. The grading will be based on participation in class, critical assignments, and group class projects. Projects have the potential of leading to work that forms the basis of an Undergraduate Honors Thesis, Master's project, or Ph.D. research topic. A partial list of topics includes the following:

Text: Information Visualization, Third Edition: Perception for Design, Colin Ware, 2012. ISBN: 0123814642. Be sure to get the third edition.

Tentative Schedule

Date Topic Due
Aug 29 (Thurs) Overview
Sept 3 (Tues) Foundations: Data, Tasks, Clients Ware, Chapter 1-3
Sept 5 (Thurs) Foundations; Quiz Reading Reflection
Sept 10 (Tues) Foundations: Spatial Vision
Sept 12 (Thurs) Foundations: Color Vision
Sept 17 (Tues) Metric Display: Quiz Ware, Chapter 4-5
Sept 19 (Thurs) Metric Display: Color project proposal
Sept 24 (Tues) Metric Display: Laptop Exercise (colorbrewer) Reading Reflection
Sept 26 (Thurs) Metric Display: Semiology, Maps hDvis construction assignment
Oct 1 (Tues) Metric Display
Oct 3 (Thurs) Metric Display project biblio
Oct 8 (Tues) Design and Evaluation: Quiz Ware, Appendices C-D
Oct 10 (Thurs) Design and Evaluation
Oct 15 (Tues) Design and Evaluation Reading Reflection
Oct 17 (Thurs) Design and Evaluation project alpha phase
Oct 22 (Tues) Design and Evaluation crit assignment: good
Oct 24 (Thurs) Design and Evaluation crit assignment: bad
Oct 29 (Tues) Pattern and Shape: Quiz Ware, Chapter 6-8
Oct 31 (Thurs) Pattern and Shape: Vision implementation assignment
Nov 5 (Tues) Pattern and Shape: Volumes Reading Reflection
Nov 7 (Thurs) Pattern and Shape
Nov 12 (Tues) Pattern and Shape
Nov 14 (Thurs) Pattern and Shape project beta phase
Nov 19 (Tues) Visual Analytics: Quiz Ware, Chapter 9-11
Nov 21 (Thurs) Visual Analytics
Nov 26 (Tues) Visual Analytics project paper draft; Reading Reflection
Dec 3 (Tues) Hot Topics and Research Challenges Reading Reflection
Dec 5 (Thurs) Hot Topics and Research Challenges project draft review
Dec 10 (Tues) Project Presentations
Dec 17, 1-3pm (Tues) Project Presentations


Description Due Date Weight
Visualization Construction Sept 26 10% Required for all
Critical review of visualizations Oct 22 5% Required for all
Discussion and analysis of technical papers Sept 5, Sept 24, Oct 15, Nov 5, Nov 26, Dec 3, Dec 10 5% Required for all
Project various 50% Required for all
Algorithm Implementation Oct 31 10% XC for 436, Required for 636
Beta Review Nov 21 5% XC for 436, Required for 636
Draft Review Dec 5 5% XC for 436, Required for 636

Grades: Grades will be assigned on the basis of quizzes (10%), individual construction and critique assignments (15%), inclass exercises and participation (10%), paper discussion and analysis (5%) group project (50%), and peer evaluation (10%). Students taking the course for graduate credit will also complete a paper draft review (5%), a beta release review (5%), and an algorithm implementation (10%), with components renormalized to 100%.
Academic Honesty By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UMBC's scholarly community, in which everyone's academic work and behavior are held to the highest standards of honesty. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and helping others to commit these acts are all forms of academic dishonesty, and they are wrong. Academic misconduct could result in disciplinary action that may include, but is not limited to, suspension or dismissal. To read the full Student Academic Conduct Policy, consult the UMBC Student Handbook, the Faculty Handbook, or the UMBC Policies section of the UMBC Directory. [Statement adopted by UMBC's Undergraduate Council and Provost's Office.]

Cheating in any form will not be tolerated. In particular, plagiarism of any published work, another student's work, or your own previously published or submitted work without proper attribution will not be tolerated. If you have any questions about what is acceptable, please bring them to me before submitting your work. The minimum penalty for a violation of the academic honesty policy is a zero on the assignment. Other penalties may include a letter grade reduction, failing the class, or, in extreme or repeated cases, dismissal from the program.

Piazza This term we will be using Piazza for class discussion. The system is catered to getting you help fast and efficiently from classmates and myself, as well as encouraging a lively dialogue about course topics. Rather than emailing questions to me, I encourage you to post questions of general interest on Piazza. If you have any problems or feedback for the developers, email Find our class page at:


Contact Penny Rheingans, rheingan AT