Motion to Support Rapid Interactive Queries on Node-link Diagrams


Many different problems can be represented as graphs displayed in the form of node-link diagrams. However, when a graph is large it becomes visually uninterpretable because of the tangle of links. We describe a set of techniques that use motion in an interactive interface to provide effective access to larger graphs. Touching a node with the mouse cursor causes that node and the subgraph of closely connected nodes to oscillate. We argue from perceptual principles that this should be a more effective way of interactively highlighting a subgraph than more conventional static methods. The MEGraph system was developed to gain experience with different forms of motion highlighting. Based on positive feedback, three experiments were carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of motion highlighting for specific tasks. All three showed motion to be more effective than static highlighting, both in increasing the speed of response for a variety of visual queries, and in reducing errors. We argue that motion highlighting can be a valuable technique in applications that require users to understand large graphs.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

ACM Transactions on Applied Perception (TAP)


1, Issue 1



Publisher Place

New York, NY, USA


Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article