On the Readability of Abstract Set Visualizations

Markus Wallinger, Ben Jacobsen, Stephen Kobourov, Martin Nollenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Set systems are used to model data that naturally arises in many contexts: social networks have communities, musicians have genres, and patients have symptoms. Visualizations that accurately reflect the information in the underlying set system make it possible to identify the set elements, the sets themselves, and the relationships between the sets. In static contexts, such as print media or infographics, it is necessary to capture this information without the help of interactions. With this in mind, we consider three different systems for medium-sized set data, LineSets, EulerView, and MetroSets, and report the results of a controlled human-subjects experiment comparing their effectiveness. Specifically, we evaluate the performance, in terms of time and error, on tasks that cover the spectrum of static set-based tasks. We also collect and analyze qualitative data about the three different visualization systems. Our results include statistically significant differences, suggesting that MetroSets performs and scales better.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9418624
Pages (from-to)2821-2832
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • quantitative evaluation
  • set visualization
  • usability study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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