Visualization of Social Net

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This is a technical problem related to one of the term projects in Information Extraction 10-707 in Fall 2010.

Visual representation of social networks is important to understand the network data and convey the result of the analysis [1]. Most of the softwares have besides the analytical tools also modules for network visuaization. Exploration of the data is done through displaying nodes and ties in various layouts, and attributing colors, size and other advanced properties to nodes.

Typical representation of the network data are graphs in network layout (nodes and ties). These are not very easy-to-read and do not allow an intuitive interpretation. Various new methods have been developed in order to display network data in more intuitive format (e.g. Sociomapping [2]).

State of the art

Currently there are visualization tools for search, music, networks, online communities, and almost anything else you can think of. In particular, we are interested in the visualization for social network. Some of the best examples include a visualization of connections in, a visualization of relationships for youtube videos, a visualization tools for related items in Amazon etc. [3]

In order to develop visualization software for social net, people usually use third party tools, one of the most popular tools in academia is the Prefuse toolkit (Written in Java) from University of California at Berkeley [4]. A few others are available too, however, for different purpose. For example, Flare [5] is widely used for web application and GUESS [6] supports a command line based front-end. The CMU-ENCORE project [7] currently adopted Prefuse for developing a tool for visualizing the Cross-Document Co-reference results.


CMU-ENCORE project has been focused on this task since the summer of 2010, the overall objective is:

  • To serve as an interface to the ENCORE:ENtity CO-REference system

The Cross Document Co-reference system is designed as a pipeline process of a Within-Document Co-reference process which produces chains of mentions for every document, a Cross-Document Co-reference process to cluster the chain together pair by pair and a visualization tool as the user interface to view the output of the entire system. The visualization tool currently has the following three features:

1) Visualizing the graph of entities

2) Visualizing the profile of entities

3) Visualizing the connection of entity groups

As illustrated below:


  • To serve as an analytical tool for business intelligence or forensics purpose. Thus the interface should be able to provide evidence (the links to the documents) and serve as a entity-based document browser.

As illustrated below:


Potential Improvement

The tool continues to evolve, mainly in these three different directions: (1) adding entity lifeline; (2) adding occurrence of the entity; (3) highlighting the entities of interests.