Spring Embedders and Force Directed Graph Drawing Algorithms

Stephen G. Kobourov

Force-directed algorithms are among the most flexible methods for calculating layouts of simple undirected graphs. Also known as spring embedders, such algorithms calculate the layout of a graph using only information contained within the structure of the graph itself, rather than relying on domain-specific knowledge. Graphs drawn with these algorithms tend to be aesthetically pleasing, exhibit symmetries, and tend to produce crossing-free layouts for planar graphs. In this survey we consider several classical algorithms, starting from Tutte's 1963 barycentric method, and including recent scalable multiscale methods for large and dynamic graphs.

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