Optimal algorithms for compact linear layouts

Sonke, Willem, Verbeek, Kevin, Meulemans, Wouter, Verbeek, Eric & Speckmann, Bettina (2018). Optimal algorithms for compact linear layouts. Proceedings – 2018 IEEE Pacific Visualization Symposium, PacificVis 2018 (pp. 1-10). Brussels: IEEE Computer Society.


Linear layouts are a simple and natural way to draw a graph: all vertices are placed on a single line and edges are drawn as arcs between the vertices. Despite its simplicity, a linear layout can be a very meaningful visualization if there is a particular order defined on the vertices. Common examples of such ordered – and often also directed – graphs are event sequences and processes. A main drawback of linear layouts are the usually (very) large aspect ratios of the resulting drawings, which prevent users from obtaining a good overview of the whole graph. In this paper we present a novel and versatile algorithm to optimally fold a linear layout of a graph such that it can be drawn nicely in a specified aspect ratio, while still clearly communicating the linearity of the layout. Our algorithm allows vertices to be drawn as blocks or rectangles of specified sizes to incorporate different drawing styles, label sizes, and even recursive structures. For reasonably-sized drawings the folded layout can be computed interactively. We demonstrate the applicability of our algorithm on graphs that represent process trees, a particular type of process model. Our algorithm arguably produces much more readable layouts than existing methods.

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