Computing Storyline Visualizations with Few Block Crossings

van Dijk, Thomas C. and Lipp, Fabian and Markfelder, Peter and Wolff, Alexander (2017) Computing Storyline Visualizations with Few Block Crossings. In: Graph Drawing and Network Visualization. GD 2017, September 25-27 , pp. 365-378(Official URL:

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Storyline visualizations show the structure of a story, by depicting the interactions of the characters over time. Each character is represented by an x-monotone curve from left to right, and a meeting is represented by having the curves of the participating characters run close together for some time. There have been various approaches to drawing storyline visualizations in an automated way. In order to keep the visual complexity low, rather than minimizing pairwise crossings of curves, we count block crossings, that is, pairs of intersecting bundles of lines. Partly inspired by the ILP-based approach of Gronemann et al. [GD 2016] for minimizing the number of pairwise crossings, we model the problem as a satisfiability problem (since the straightforward ILP formulation becomes more complicated and harder to solve). Having restricted ourselves to a decision problem, we can apply powerful SAT solvers to find optimal drawings in reasonable time. We compare this SAT-based approach with two exact algorithms for block crossing minimization, using both the benchmark instances of Gronemann et al. and random instances. We show that the SAT approach is suitable for real-world instances and identify cases where the other algorithms are preferable.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Classifications: G Algorithms and Complexity > G.420 Crossings
P Styles > P.300 Curved
S Software and Systems > S.120 Visualization

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