kottke.org posts about Mike Bostock

Visualizing algorithmsJun 30 2014

Bostock Maze

In an adaptation of a talk he gave at the recent Eyeo Festival, Mike Bostock talks about visualizing algorithms.

Algorithms are a fascinating use case for visualization. To visualize an algorithm, we don't merely fit data to a chart; there is no primary dataset. Instead there are logical rules that describe behavior. This may be why algorithm visualizations are so unusual, as designers experiment with novel forms to better communicate. This is reason enough to study them.

But algorithms are also a reminder that visualization is more than a tool for finding patterns in data. Visualization leverages the human visual system to augment human intellect: we can use it to better understand these important abstract processes, and perhaps other things, too.

If nothing else, skim through the text and play the visualizations. The one of the maze turning into a tree visualization baked my noodle a little bit.

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