Quantitative Comparison of Time-Dependent Treemaps

Eduardo Vernier, Max Sondag, Joao Comba, Bettina Speckmann, Alexandru Telea, Kevin Verbeek

Rectangular treemaps are often the method of choice to visualize large hierarchical datasets. Nowadays such datasets are available over time, hence there is a need for (a) treemaps that can handle time-dependent data, and (b) corresponding quality criteria that cover both a treemap's visual quality and its stability over time. In recent years a wide variety of (stable) treemapping algorithms has been proposed, with various advantages and limitations. We aim to provide insights to researchers and practitioners to allow them to make an informed choice when selecting a treemapping algorithm for specific applications and data. To this end, we perform an extensive quantitative evaluation of rectangular treemaps for time-dependent data. As part of this evaluation we propose a novel classification scheme for time-dependent datasets. Specifically, we observe that the performance of treemapping algorithms depends on the characteristics of the datasets used. We identify four potential representative features that characterize time-dependent hierarchical datasets and classify all datasets used in our experiments accordingly. We experimentally test the validity of this classification on more than 2000 datasets, and analyze the relative performance of 14 state-of-the-art rectangular treemapping algorithms across varying features. Finally, we visually summarize our results with respect to both visual quality and stability to aid users in making an informed choice among treemapping algorithms. All datasets, metrics, and algorithms are openly available to facilitate reuse and further comparative studies.

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