Texts  Important Dates  Projects  Lectures  Grading  Links


 Bryn Mawr College
CS 120: Visualizing Information
Spring 2006
Course Materials


General Information

Instructor: Dianna Xu , 246A Park Hall, 526-6502
E-Mail: dxu at cs dot brynmawr dot edu

Lecture Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 2:30 pm to 4 pm
Room: Park 232

Lab Hours: TBA
Lab room: Park 231

Office hours: Tues/Thurs 1-2pm and by appointment

Texts & Software

  • The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, by Edward Tufte, Graphics Press, 2001.
  • Learning to Program with Alice , by Dann, Cooper and Pausch, Prentice Hall, 2006.

Important Dates

Jan 17: First lecture
April 27: Last lecture

Programming Projects & Homework

Future home works will be posted here and/or handed out in class.


Tentative Syllabus

Week Topic
1 Introduction to visualization
2 Visual Perception and principles. Types of data and graphs, visual illusions
3 Structure and representation of data. Graphical integrity. Quantitative data analysis and graphical sophistication
4 Data-ink, chart-junk, what NOT to display
5 Maximizing data-ink, multifunctioning graphical elements, data density and small multiples
6 Aethetics and Techniques, color principles
7 Case studies: visualization in geology
8 Spring break!
9 Case studies: TBA
10 Intro to virtual reality and Alice
11 First programs, control structure, objects, methods and parameters
12 Event handling
13 Conditionals
14 Repetitions
15 Review and final project

Detailed syllabus will be posted here as the semester progresses

  • Week 1

    Jan 17:
    Introduction and history

    Jan 19:

  • Week 2

    Jan 24:
    Visual Perception and Principles, Types of Data and Graphs, Graphical Excellence

Read: Tufte pages 1-51

Jan 26:
Your visualization presentations. Intro to Mathematica

  • Week 3

    Jan 31:
    Grapical Integrity

Read: Tufte pages 52-77

Feb 2:
More on Mathematica: data structures

  • Week 4

    Feb 7:
    Intro to Alice

Feb 9: Alice: Getting started

Read: Learning to program with Alice: Chapter 1

  • Week 5

    Feb 14:
    Senarios and storyboards

Read: Learning to program with Alice: Chapter 2, Section 1

Feb 16: Alice: First Program

Read: Learning to program with Alice: Chapter 2, Section 2 and Tips and Techniques

  • Week 6-7

    Feb 24:
    Basic statistics

Feb 28: hell week lecture: water tanks and visualization

March 2 : class cancelled, I am out of town

  • Week 8

    Sprint break!

  • Week 9

    March 14:
    Guest Lecture: Prof. Emily Allen

March 16 : Guest Lecture: Prof. Catherine Riihimaki

  • Week 10

    March 21:
    Alice: functions and values

March 23: Alice: control structures, conditionals and loops

  • Week 11

    March 28:
    Alice: World-level methods

March 30: Alice: parameters

  • Week 12

    April 04:
    Alice: class-level methods and inheritance

April 06 : Alice: events and event handling

  • Week 13

    April 11:
    Alice: parameters and event handling

April 13: Alice: class-level functions

  • Week 14

    April 18:
    Project discussion and presentation

April 20 : Alice: If/Else and Boolean functions

  • Week 15

    April 25:
    Alice: Advanced loops

April 27 : Conclusion



Most programming work will receive a numerical score out of 100. Guidelines of letter grades corresponding to those scores will be given. Your final grade will be calculated from a weighted average of all scores/grades according to the following weights:

Assignments, readings and in-class work: 50%
Projects: 50%

Total: 100%

More details will be given out during class.