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20 imperatives of information design — BioVis 2012

Circos in Simon Fraser University's AQ magazine (Apr 2011)

A Circos image appears as part of a spread in SFU's biannual AQ Magazine. The composite accompanies my photos of our laboratory and computer equipment.

The image was adapted from Figure 1 of our paper "Evolution of an adenocarcinoma in response to selection by targeted kinase inhibitors".

Jones SJ, Laskin J, Li YY et al. 2010 Evolution of an adenocarcinoma in response to selection by targeted kinase inhibitors Genome Biol 11:R82.

Circos at VIZBI 2011

Circos was one of the community visualization tool tutorials at VIZBI 2011, at the Broad Institute in Boston.

Circos Helps with Urban Planning

The town of Caceres, Spain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, used Circos to illustrate the relationships between businesses in their urban planning strategy.

Circos Investigates Policy Breach in Email Conversation

Circos is ideally suited for displaying the flow of information. In this case, during an investigation into email policy abuse, Ben Reardon explored the evolution of electronic conversation to reveal the source and primary propagators.

Visualizing Database Schemas

Before Circos, I created a prototype system, Schemaball, to visualize database schemas.

Relationships between tables quickly became apparent and our database administrators suddenly had more free time to play Carcassonne.

Krzywinski, M. Schemaball: A New Spin on Database Visualization (2004) Sysadmin Magazine Vol 13 Issue 08.

Banish Tables

Tables are natural containers for data. Whenever information is presented, chances are excellent that it is communicated by means of a table. In many cases, however, when this information is complex (and the table, therefore, is large) a tabular presentation is difficult to parse visually and patterns in the tabulated data remain opaque.

You can use Circos to visualize tabular data. It's different, reasonably easy, available online, and sure to start a conversation.

It's also quite informative.

Banish Tables

Tables are natural containers for data. Whenever information is presented, chances are excellent that it is communicated by means of a table. In many cases, however, when this information is complex (and the table, therefore, is large) a tabular presentation is difficult to parse visually and patterns in the tabulated data remain opaque.

You can use Circos to visualize tabular data. It's different, reasonably easy, available online, and sure to start a conversation.

It's also quite informative.

Banish Tables

Tables are natural containers for data. Whenever information is presented, chances are excellent that it is communicated by means of a table. In many cases, however, when this information is complex (and the table, therefore, is large) a tabular presentation is difficult to parse visually and patterns in the tabulated data remain opaque.

You can use Circos to visualize tabular data. It's different, reasonably easy, available online, and sure to start a conversation.

It's also quite informative.

Naming Names - Circos Engages in Political Mudslinging

Jonathan Corum of the New York Times prepared this infographic with Circos to show the extent and timing of the use of names of by presidential candidates in a series of debates. Each arrow represents one candidate refering to another, with the start of the arrow representing the time within the candidate's speech at which the reference was made.

The figure was part of a larger graphic that identified themes during the debate. Jonathan created an interactive version of this figure and discusses how he approached its design.

Not Just For Genomes

Data is data. Circos is flexible. There is nothing about Circos that is specific to genomics—it just happens that I work in genomics and therefore the tool has been applied to this field.

Some parameter names have a distinctly biological feel to them (e.g., chromosomes), they translate directly to general ideas (e.g. axis).

Circos' circular layout makes it ideally suited for showing data that includes relationships between positions on one or more scales.

To name a few, Circos has been used to visualize customer loyalty in the auto industry, volume of courier shipments, database schemas, presidential debates and flow of human migration.

Tracking Customer Behaviour in Car Transactions

These days many people are dumping their SUVs in preference to smaller cars. How do customers "flow" between brands and car segments? The figures below illustrate such data sets.

Customer behaviour in car purchases. (900 x 900)
Individual car segments are organized circularly and subdivided into individual brands. Links between the segment/brand combination refer to a transaction in which a customer sold a specific segment/brand in favour of another.

Customer behaviour in car purchases. (900 x 300)
A variety of panels focusing on different aspects of the customer flow data set.

Customer behaviour in car purchases. (950 x 567)
Explanation of the structure of the infographic. The entire data set is shown with links colored based on the number of transactions.

Customer behaviour in car purchases. (900 x 579)
Close-up legend of the graphic.

Urban Planning

Caceres Creativa: p138 (Parte Antigua), p184 (Ribera del Marco)), p188 (Aldea Moret).

Urban Planning strategy for Caceres, Spain. (900 x 783)
17 Jan 2011 | The town of Caceres, Spain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, used Circos to illustrate the relationships between businesses in their urban planning strategy.

Political Debates

Names used by major presidential candidates in the series of Democratic and Republican debates leading up to the Iowa caucuses. (900 x 660)
Names used by major presidential candidates in the series of Democratic and Republican debates leading up to the Iowa caucuses. By Jonathan Corum and Farhana Hossain (NYT).

Human Migration Patterns

This is work by Guy J Abel and Nikola Sander and has been published in Science (28 March 2014). See http://www.global-migration.info for details and data.

Abel GJ, Sander N 2014 Quantifying global international migration flows Science 343:1520-1522.

Human migration - global flow of people. (900 x 255)
Human migration volumes between world regions over the last 20 years in 5-year periods.

Human migration - global flow of people. (900 x 371)
Origin and destination countries are represented by segments around the circle. Each country is assigned a colour (Mexico: yellow); flows have the same colour as the origin. Flow from Mexico to USA: no gap at origin, large gap at destination; the width indicates its size. Total emigration from Mexico, coloured by destination country (here USA). Total immigration to Mexico, coloured by origin country (here small [return] flow from USA). Tick marks indicate a country’s gross migration in 100,000’s (here 4.1 mio in India).

Human migration - global flow of people. (900 x 644)
This Data Sheet provides a comprehensive portrait of the global flow of people in 2005–10. It features the flows between the top 50 sending and receiving countries, each country’s total immigration and emigration flow and the world’s 20 largest country-to-country flows.