Posts Tagged ‘network’

NodeXL: Network Visualizations in Excel (Visual Business Intelligence)

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

[Editor's note: Visualizing complex connection topologies is made easier with a new plugin for Microsoft Excel. Now someone needs to port it to Flash ActionScript 3!]

Republished from Visual Business Intelligence.

This blog entry was written by Bryan Pierce of Perceptual Edge.

The chances are good that you’ve seen network visualizations before, such as the one below in which the circles and octagons represent large U.S. companies and each connecting line represents a person who sits on the board of both companies.

(This image was created by Toby Segaran: http://blog.kiwitobes.com/?p=57)

While these types of graphs have become more common in recent years, there’s still a good chance that you’ve never created one yourself. This is because, traditionally, to create network visualizations, you’ve either needed specialized (and often unwieldy) network visualization software or a full-featured (and usually expensive) visualization suite. That’s no longer the case. A team of contributors from several universities and research groups, including the University of Maryland and Microsoft Research, recently released NodeXL, a free add-in for Excel that allows you to create and analyze network visualizations.

Using NodeXL you can import data from a variety of file formats and it will automatically lay out the visualization for you, using one of twelve built-in layout algorithms.

Continue reading at Visual Business Intelligence . . .

Map: Network of Special Lanes (Wash Post)

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

[Editor's note: Great map by Laris Karklis.]

Republished from The Washington Post. By Ashley Halsey III.
Related article: A Fast Track To Bus

A proposal that would use $300 million of federal stimulus money to optimize bus service is under review today. Enhancements to bus corridors and a reconfiguration of K Street are among the central elements of proposed improvements.

gr2009071500075

The Internet’s Undersea World (Guardian)

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

[Editor's note: Wireless is all the buzz but good old copper and fiber-optic cables link most of us together, as this graphic from last year's Guardian newspaper shows.]

Republished from the Guardian newspaper (UK).

The vast majority of the world’s communications are not carried by satellites but an altogether older technology: cables under the earth’s oceans. As a ship accidently wipes out Asia’s net access [in 2008-ed], this map showss how we rely on collections of wires of less than 10 cm diameter to link us all together.

View larger JPG version (hi-res pdf).

seacablehi

Key to Eliminating U.S. Flight Delays? Redesign the Sky Over New York City (Wired)

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
[Editor's note: Maps show off the poor network topology for air traffic in and out of New York city and how to optimize the system to reduce flight delays across the US.]
Republished from Wired magazine.
By Andrew Blum Email 02.23.09

Two million flights pass through the New York area airspace each year.
Illustration: Aaron Koblin

Inbound JFK. The turns start while you’re still in the clouds. Engines howling, flaps down, the plane lurches and dives, jerky as a taxi in Midtown. Seatback upright and tray table locked, you’re oblivious to the crowded flight paths around you. But the air above New York City is mapped: a dense and nuanced geography nearly as complicated as the city below.

More than 2 million flights pass over the city every year, most traveling to and from the metropolitan area’s three busiest airports: John F. Kennedy, Newark, and LaGuardia. And all that traffic squeezes through a network of aerial routes first laid out for the mail planes of the 1920s. Aircraft are tracked by antiquated, ground-based radar and guided by verbal instructions issued over simplex radios, technology that predates the pocket calculator. The system is extremely safe—no commercial flight has been in a midair collision over the US in 22 years—but, because the Federal Aviation Administration treats each plane as if it were a 2,000-foot-tall, 6- by 6-mile block lumbering through the troposphere, New York is running out of air.

This is a nightmare for New York travelers; delays affect about a third of the area’s flights. The problem also ripples out to create a bigger logjam: Because so many aircraft pass through New York’s airspace, three-quarters of all holdups nationwide can be traced back to that tangled swath of East Coast sky.

Six years ago, Congress green-lit a plan to solve this problem. The Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act calls for a new system, dubbed NextGen, that uses GPS to create a sort of real-time social network in the skies. In theory, it should give pilots the data they need to route themselves—minus the huge safety cushions.

But NextGen needs some serious hardware: roughly $300,000 in new avionics equipment for every cockpit. That’s a lot of peanuts for the struggling airlines. Add to the tab nearly 800 new federally funded ground stations to relay each plane’s location and trajectory to every other plane in the sky and—by the time NextGen finally launches in 2025—the price tag could reach $42 billion.

Jetliner Photos: Jeffrey Milstein

In the meantime, the New York-area skies have seen a huge traffic bump over the past two decades—including a 48 percent increase between 1994 and 2004. So the FAA has set out to coax new efficiency from old technology.

To help reorganize this airspace, the FAA called on Mitre, a Beltway R&D firm that works exclusively for the government. Mitre’s scientists and mathematicians, in cooperation with some of the region’s air traffic controllers, are completely rethinking the flow of aircraft in and out of New York City. Current flight patterns evolved like a rabbit warren, with additions tacked on to an existing architecture. As airports grew busier and airplanes started flying higher and faster, that architecture became increasingly inefficient. The plan, the unfortunately named New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia Metropolitan Area Airspace Redesign, aims to bring order to the air.

Think of it as a redrawn map of the roadways in the sky. While planes used to chug in and out of the city on a few packed roads, the redesign spreads out the aircraft by adding new arrival posts (exit ramps), departure gates (on-ramps), and takeoff headings (streets leading up to the intercity highways). But the biggest move will be making the space for all these additions. Mitre’s proposal is to extend the boundaries of this airborne city into a 31,180-square-mile area that stretches from Philadelphia to Albany to Montauk.

Unclogging the Skies

A new FAA plan—the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia Metropolitan Area Airspace Redesign—aims to streamline the air traffic over New York. Here are two highlights.

Adding Lanes
Flights heading west out of New York have to squeeze onto two airborne highways over New Jersey before they merge with air traffic from the rest of the country. The redesign adds more lanes, allowing more planes to take off per hour.

Expanding Control
The New York regional air traffic control center is the busiest in the world. The redesign integrates its authority with other regional centers so controllers can direct planes that are farther away, clearing the high-altitude flight paths for through-traffic

The FAA started implementing the first part of the plan—the new takeoff headings—in December 2007 and should have the full strategy in place by 2012. By then the agencies hope to have reduced delays in New York by an average of three minutes per flight. And in a system as interconnected as the US air traffic network, those few minutes could quickly cascade into hours.

Continue reading at Wired . . .

Molecular Frameworks, the Building Blocks of All Life (Wired mag)

Monday, March 9th, 2009

[Editor's note: Blast from your chemistry class, Wired profiles the 30 most common molecular shapes, nature's "shape alphabet".]

Republished from Wired magazine.
By Erin Biba Email 02.23.09

Sure, the world is complicated, but not as complicated as you might think. It turns out that most organic molecules—the kind of chemicals that make food tasty, perfumes fragrant, and life alive—derive from a few relatively simple architectures.

Together with a bunch of data-minded colleagues, Alan Lipkus of the Chemical Abstracts Service took a deep dive into his organization’s century-old library of 24 million organic compounds—most of them synthetic. They found that more than half are built from just 143 basic shapes, or “frameworks.” And the rest? Well, building those requires the other 836,565 cataloged frameworks.

Why do a handful of fundamental shapes get all the work? In part because chemists typically create new molecules—in the search, say, for potential new drugs—from the ones they’re familiar with. It’s cheaper. But Lipkus hopes that showcasing this lopsided approach will encourage researchers to work farther out on the long tail of molecular geometry. “A lot of structures have not been fully explored,” he says. “There could be interesting things to discover.” Here’s a snapshot of the newly discovered shape-alphabet.

Top 30 Molecular Shapes

Molecules are clusters of atoms joined like Tinkertoys. The range of possible structures is vast, but they can all be categorized by “molecular framework”—the underlying rings and connectors. Most common by far is the hexagon—a ring of six atoms, with one at each corner, that’s the basis for nearly 10 percent of known organic compounds. Here are the top 30 most common frameworks, with frequency of occurrence in parentheses.

Continue reading a Wired . . .

Housing Market State by State (Wash Post)

Friday, March 6th, 2009

[Editor's note: This graphic mixes a free-form Dorling cartogram with a bar chart. Both examine the same nominal geographic data but the bar chart shows "underwater" mortgages as a percent of all mortgages while the cartogram shows the same by total per state. Since most US state choropleth maps are simply visual lists, this graphic dispenses with the map entirely and examines the thematic data through two lenses to show two different results.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
March 5, 2009.
Graphic by Todd Lindeman and Laura Stanton.
Related story >>

At least one in five U.S. mortgage holders – or about 8.3 million households – owed more on their mortgages by the end of 2008 than their homes were worth, sometimes called “underwater.”

SOURCE: First American CoreLogic | The Washington Post – March 5, 2009

U.S. Launches Wide-Ranging Plan to Steady Housing Market
$75 Billion Plan Would Help Borrowers Avoid Foreclosure

Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 5, 2009; Page A01

The Obama administration yesterday sketched in the details of its most ambitious attempt to reduce foreclosures and stabilize the beleaguered housing market at the root of the economic meltdown.

The program has two key elements: a refinancing program for borrowers with little equity in their homes but current on their loans, and a $75 billion program to help reduce mortgage payments for struggling borrowers.

Several large lenders praised the program, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo. There were also converts among those outside the industry. “I was skeptical at first, but I think these guidelines are helpful in a lot of ways,” said John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a nonprofit group that has been critical of industry efforts to modify mortgages.

Homeowners with loans as large as $729,750 could see their interest rates temporarily cut to as low as 2 percent under the program. The administration also said it will add new incentives to persuade lenders that hold second mortgages to give up their claims, further lowering homeowners’ debt obligations. While the Obama administration initially said it would focus on owner-occupied properties, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said they would refinance loans for some second homes and investment properties, too.

That the programs would apply to mortgages worth up to $729,750 throughout the country and not just in high-priced regions surprised some industry officials who praised the move. “It will allow us to help more borrowers, especially those who have been hit hardest by the current crisis,” said John A. Courson, chief executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

Tag Cloud: How Words Could End a War (NY Time)

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

[Editor's note: This op-editorial art piece (above) from the New York Times shows how a simple tag cloud can show an idea topology in a simple, powerful format. Full op-ed below.]

Republished from the New York Times.
By SCOTT ATRAN and JEREMY GINGES
Orig published: January 24, 2009

AS diplomats stitch together a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, the most depressing feature of the conflict is the sense that future fighting is inevitable. Rational calculation suggests that neither side can win these wars. The thousands of lives and billions of dollars sacrificed in fighting demonstrate the advantages of peace and coexistence; yet still both sides opt to fight.

This small territory is the world’s great symbolic knot. “Palestine is the mother of all problems” is a common refrain among people we have interviewed across the Muslim world: from Middle Eastern leaders to fighters in the remote island jungles of Indonesia; from Islamist senators in Pakistan to volunteers for martyrdom on the move from Morocco to Iraq.

Some analysts see this as a testament to the essentially religious nature of the conflict. But research we recently undertook suggests a way to go beyond that. For there is a moral logic to seemingly intractable religious and cultural disputes. These conflicts cannot be reduced to secular calculations of interest but must be dealt with on their own terms, a logic very different from the marketplace or realpolitik.

Across the world, people believe that devotion to sacred or core values that incorporate moral beliefs — like the welfare of family and country, or commitment to religion and honor — are, or ought to be, absolute and inviolable. Our studies, carried out with the support of the National Science Foundation and the Defense Department, suggest that people will reject material compensation for dropping their commitment to sacred values and will defend those values regardless of the costs.

In our research, we surveyed nearly 4,000 Palestinians and Israelis from 2004 to 2008, questioning citizens across the political spectrum including refugees, supporters of Hamas and Israeli settlers in the West Bank. We asked them to react to hypothetical but realistic compromises in which their side would be required to give away something it valued in return for a lasting peace.

All those surveyed responded to the same set of deals. First they would be given a straight-up offer in which each side would make difficult concessions in exchange for peace; next they were given a scenario in which their side was granted an additional material incentive; and last came a proposal in which the other side agreed to a symbolic sacrifice of one of its sacred values.

Continue reading at New York Times . . .

Global Forces Converge to Drive up Oil Prices (Wash Post)

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

[Editor’s note: January begins newspaper design association page contest season. We came across this graphic looking thru our 2008 work in the Washington Post and was reminded how it fits in with my geography and projections as network topology thesis. Lines on this map of “Major Global Trade Routes” of oil connect each geographic feature with related geographic features. Weights are given to each connection and represented visually. Overall the network is conformal to real geography in a top level abstract sense, but the connections (flow lines) between them shine. Kudos to Renée, now at the Wall Street Journal.]

Reprinted from The Washington Post, July 27, 2008.

In the time it takes most people to read this sentence, the world will have used up (forever) about 9,520 barrels of oil. At 40,000 gallons per second, it’s going fast.

The United States plays a central role in the global energy system as the largest consumer, the largest importer and the third-largest producer of oil in the world. With use of this finite resource rising at breakneck speed, will the world have enough to meet its needs, and will it be able to afford it?

TOP OIL PRODUCERS
Where does the oil come from? Just three countries — Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States — pump about 31 percent of the world’s oil. More than 9 million barrels per day of crude oil (plus another 1 million barrels per day of liquids derived from natural gas) are being extracted from the reserves underneath Saudi Arabia, the world’s single largest oil producer.

TOP OIL CONSUMERS
Every day, the U.S. consumes more than 20 million barrels — almost one-fourth of all the oil used in the world and more than two times as much as the second-biggest consumer, China. Consumption in most developed countries, including Britain, France, Germany and Italy, hovers around 2 million barrels a day — barely a tenth of that used by the U.S.

Screenshots below and above. Download PDF.

Graphics reported by Brenna Maloney, graphics by Todd Lindeman — The Washington Post. Map by Renée Rigdon – The Washington Post.