CCE Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science (CISD)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Michael J. Lazlo

Committee Member

Junping Sun

Committee Member

Wei Li


Dynamic graph layout, Incremental graph layout, Sugiyama heuristic


Data in real-world graph drawing applications often change frequently but incrementally. Any drastic change in the graph layout could disrupt a user's "mental map." Furthermore, real-world applications like enterprise process or e-commerce graphing, where data change rapidly in both content and quantity, demand a comprehensive responsiveness when rendering the graph layout in a multi-user environment in real time. Most standard static graph drawing algorithms apply global changes and redraw the entire graph layout whenever the data change. The new layout may be very different from the previous layout and the time taken to redraw the entire graph degrades quickly as the amount of graph data grows. Dynamic behavior and the quantity of data generated by real-world applications pose challenges for existing graph drawing algorithms in terms of incremental stability and scalability.

A constrained hierarchical graph drawing framework and modified Sugiyama heuristic were developed in this research. The goal of this research was to improve the scalability of the constrained graph drawing framework while preserving layout stability. The framework's use of the relational data model shifts the graph application from the traditional desktop to a collaborative and distributed environment by reusing vertex and edge information stored in a relational database. This research was based on the work of North and Woodhull (2001) and the constrained crossing reduction problem proposed by Forster (2004). The result of the constrained hierarchical graph drawing framework and the new Sugiyama heuristic, especially the modified barycenter algorithms, were tested and evaluated against the Graphviz framework and North and Woodhull's (2001) online graph drawing framework.

The performance test results showed that the constrained graph drawing framework run time is comparable with the performance of the Graphviz framework in terms of generating static graph layouts, which is independent of database accesses. Decoupling graph visualization from the graph editing modules improved scalability, enabling the rendering of large graphs in real time. The visualization test also showed that the constrained framework satisfied the aesthetic criteria for constrained graph layouts. Future enhancements for this proposed framework include implementation of (1) the horizontal coordinate assignment algorithm, (2) drawing polylines for multilayer edges in the rendering module, and (3) displaying subgraphs for very large graph layouts.

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