Jan-Hinrich Kämper, Stephen G. Kobourov, Martin Nöllenburg

We present a new circular-arc cartogram model in which countries are drawn as polygons with circular arcs instead of straight-line segments. Given a political map and values associated with each country in the map, a cartogram is a distorted map in which the areas of the countries are proportional to the corresponding values. In the circular-arc cartogram model straight-line segments can be replaced by circular arcs in order to modify the areas of the polygons, while the corners of the polygons remain fixed. The countries in circular-arc cartograms have the aesthetically pleasing appearance of clouds or snowflakes, depending on whether their edges are bent outwards or inwards. This makes it easy to determine whether a country has grown or shrunk, just by its overall shape. We show that determining whether a given map and given area-values can be realized as a circular-arc cartogram is an NP-hard problem. Next we describe a heuristic method for constructing circular-arc cartograms, which uses a max-flow computation on the dual graph of the map, along with a computation of the straight skeleton of the underlying polygonal decomposition. Our method is implemented and produces cartograms that, while not yet perfectly accurate, achieve many of the desired areas in our real-world examples.

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