COMP 150 (VIZ) Visualization

Course Description

Creative visualizations have been proposed to present and improve understanding of data, processes, structures, and concepts in a wide range of fields. Well-designed visualizations are powerful tools for communication and support recall, inference, and decision-making. While authoring visualizations often requires considerable effort by trained designers, active research has given us a growing toolbox for visual description and presentation. This course is an introduction to visualization techniques and technology. It targets students interested in building novel visualization tools, as well as those interested in applying visualization techniques to their own work. We will study techniques for creating effective visualizations, incorporating principles of graphic design, cognitive and perceptual psychology, data analysis, and human factors evaluations. Readings will include research papers representing the state of the art in visual communication technology.

Course Information

In this course, students will work with each other in a teams of two. Click here for the team assignments.

We will use Piazza for questions and discussions. Our course page is here.
We have manually enrolled all enrolled students. But if you could not find the website, please contact the Gradaute TA Fumeng Yang.

Prerequisite: COMP 15


Recommended Books
R1 Visualization Design and Analysis: Abstractions, Principles, and Methods (Tamara Munzner)
R2 Visual Thinking for Design (Colin Ware)
R3 Visualizing Data (Ben Fry)
Additional Reading Material
R4 The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (Edward Tufte)
R5 Envisioning Information (Edward Tufte)


To receive a grade for your assignment, you will need to demo your work to the instructor or TA during the designated hours.

Late Policy

a) The final project cannot be turned in late! No exceptions!!
b) Labs are due the week after they are assigned and will be graded by the instructors and/or the TAs during class. There is no late policy for the labs. If no one from a group is present when the labs are graded, all memebers of the group will receive a 0 for the lab.
c) Late assignments will be penalized at a "one-letter-grade-per-day" rate, but no credit will be given if the assignment is more than 5 days late. In other words, for each late day, the assignment will lose 10 points (out of 100). If the assignment is turned in after 5 days, it will receive no credit.

Support Code

Here are tips from Will Butt and Max Goldstein on how to integrate Processing into VIM.


Tufts is committed to providing support services and reasonable accommodations to all students with documented disabilities. To request an accommodation, you must register with the Disability Services Office at the beginning of the semester. To do so, call the Student Services Desk at (617) 627-2000 to arrange an appointment with Sandra Baer, Program Director of Disability Services.


Some images and slides are based on lectures by Prof Pat Hanrahan (Stanford), Prof John Stasko (Georgia Tech), and Prof Tamara Munzer (University of British Columbia)