Influence of Shape, Density, and Edge Crossings on the Perception of Graph Differences

Guenter Wallner, Margit Pohl, Cynthia Graniczkowska, Kathrin Ballweg and Tatiana Von Landesberger


The perception of differences between graphs represented as node-link diagrams is an important issue in many disciplines. This paper presents results from a study with 40 participants. The goal of the study was to test whether shape, density, and edge crossings of the graph influence the perception of differences between graphs and the order in which they are perceived. The participants worked under time constraints. Our results indicate that an increase in density lowers the recognition of differences while a newly introduced edge crossing helps to spot a change. Shape did not have a significant influence on the perception of differences.

2 Replies to “ESC4”

  1. Nice and well-focussed paper.
    I can imagine a great amount of alterations of the base graphs used in your experiment. You categorize these alterations into differences in shape, density, and edge crossings in comparison to the base graphs. I was curious to know which are the criteria you have used for the alterations and their encodings in the DAGs of your experiment?

    1. I hope I understood your comment correctly. We tried to do the changes systematically, so that sometimes we added nodes and links so that the shape changed considerably, or we added nodes and links so that edge crossings occurred or we added nodes and links in dense or empty areas. It is quite a challenge to do these changes systematically so that all the cases are considered.

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