MetroSets: Visualizing sets as metro maps

Ben Jacobsen, Markus Wallinger, Stephen Kobourov, Martin Nollenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We propose MetroSets, a new, flexible online tool for visualizing set systems using the metro map metaphor. We model a given set system as a hypergraph H=(V,S), consisting of a set V of vertices and a set S, which contains subsets of V called hyperedges. Our system then computes a metro map representation of H, where each hyperedge E in S corresponds to a metro line and each vertex corresponds to a metro station. Vertices that appear in two or more hyperedges are drawn as interchanges in the metro map, connecting the different sets. MetroSets is based on a modular 4-step pipeline which constructs and optimizes a path-based hypergraph support, which is then drawn and schematized using metro map layout algorithms. We propose and implement multiple algorithms for each step of the MetroSet pipeline and provide a functional prototype with easy-to-use preset configurations. Furthermore, using several real-world datasets, we perform an extensive quantitative evaluation of the impact of different pipeline stages on desirable properties of the generated maps, such as octolinearity, monotonicity, and edge uniformity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9224192
Pages (from-to)1257-1267
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Set visualization
  • hypergraphs
  • metro map metaphor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


Dive into the research topics of 'MetroSets: Visualizing sets as metro maps'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this