The State of the Art in Cartograms

Sabrina Nusrat, Stephen Kobourov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Cartograms combine statistical and geographical information in thematic maps, where areas of geographical regions (e.g., countries, states) are scaled in proportion to some statistic (e.g., population, income). Cartograms make it possible to gain insight into patterns and trends in the World around us and have been very popular visualizations for geo-referenced data for over a century. This Work surveys cartogram research in visualization, cartography and geometry, covering a broad spectrum of different cartogram types: from the traditional rectangular and table cartograms, to Dorling and diffusion cartograms. A particular focus is the study of the major cartogram dimensions: statistical accuracy, geographical accuracy, and topological accuracy. We review the history of cartograms, describe the algorithms for generating them, and consider task taxonomies. We also review quantitative and qualitative evaluations, and we use these to arrive at design guidelines and research challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-642
Number of pages24
JournalComputer Graphics Forum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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