Analysis and visualization of social networks

  • Brandes U
  • Wagner D
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Abstract

We describe visone, a tool that facilitates the visual exploration of social networks. Social network analysis is a methodological approach in the social sciences using graph-theoretic concepts to describe, understand and explain social structure. The visone software is an attempt to integrate analysis and visualization of social networks and is intended to be used in research and teaching. While we are primarily focussing on users in the social sciences, several features provided in the tool will be useful in other fields as well. In contrast to more conventional mathematical software in the social sci- ences that aim at providing a comprehensive suite of analytical options, our emphasis is on complementing every option we provide with tailored means of graphical interaction. We attempt to make complicated types of analysis and data handling transparent, intuitive, and more readily accessible. User feed- back indicates that many who usually regard data exploration and analysis complicated and unnerving enjoy the playful nature of visual interaction. Consequently, much of the tool is about graph drawing methods specifi- cally adapted to facilitate visual data exploration. The origins of visone lie in an interdisciplinary cooperation with researchers from political science which resulted in innovative uses of graph drawing methods for social network vi- sualization, and prototypical implementations thereof. With the growing de- mand for access to these methods, we started implementing an integrated tool for public use. It should be stressed, however, that visone remains a research platform and testbed for innovative methods, and is not intended to become a standard tool with all due consequences such as extensive user-support and product marketing. Essentially all components are in development and therefore subject to change. In a nutshell, visone is a • tool for interactive analysis and visualization of networks, in which • originality is preferred over comprehensiveness, and that • caters especially to social scientists. The organization of the subsequent sections follows the common structure of all chapters in this book. In particular, we start with background information on the main area of application for visone, and give application examples in Section 5. While other interesting algorithms have been implemented, Sec- tion 3 focusses on those for graph drawing.

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Authors

  • Ulrik Brandes

  • Dorothea Wagner

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