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Simple Representations of Complex Networks: Strategies for Visualizing Network Structuregif

Lothar Krempel
Max-Planck-Institut fuer Gesellschaftsforschung
Lothringer Str 78
50677 Koeln
Germany
email: krempel@mpi-fg-koeln.mpg.de

October 5, 1994

Abstract:

Despite a growing number of powerful techniques for analyzing networks, network researchers often find themselves in need of simple and efficient ways to communicate their results to a nonprofessional audience.

How can we visualize network structures in a simple manner while controlling the location of errors which may result from such simplifications ?

We propose a family of strategies, that includes at least three different steps:

  1. the choice of simple geometric shapes as a priori constraints to limit the permissible spatial locations of network nodes

  2. the choice of a specific structure characteristic as a criterion for optimization

  3. a parsimonious algorithm to optimize the spatial distances between the elements of various sets contained in the network data.

Starting with simple examples of social structures, we will demonstrate that such strategies work well. Examples from 'real world data' will show that this is a practical way to handle even quite complex data.





Lothar Krempel
Fri Mar 31 13:14:02 MET DST 1995