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Visualization Design

In this assignment, you will design a visualization for a small data set and provide a rigorous rationale for your design choices. The data set is a collection of measurements of the effectiveness of antibiotics, shown in Table 1.

Antibiotic Effectiveness Data

The data provider gives the following description of the data:

In the post World War II world antibiotics were called "wonder drugs" for they provided quick and easy cures for what had previously been intractable diseases. Data were being gathered to aid in learning which drug worked best for what bacterial infection. Being able to see the structure of drug performance from outcome data was an enormous aid for practitioners and scientists alike. In the fall of 1951 Burtin published a graph showing the performance of the three most popular antibiotics on 16 different bacteria.

The entries of the table are the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC), a measure of the effectiveness of the antibiotic. The MIC represents the concentration of antibiotic required to prevent growth in vitro. The covariate “gram staining” describes the reaction of the bacteria to Gram staining. Gram-positive bacteria are those that are stained dark blue or violet; whereas, Gram-negative bacteria do not react that way.

You can download the data table as a comma-separated values file.

Note that the table above lists "Brucella anthracis". We believe that this is a transcription error from "Bacillus anthracis". Additionally, many of the bacteria names have changed in the last 50 years. The data set we provide has the modern names as well as the corrected anthrax name. Thanks are due to Justin Talbot for identifying and fixing these errors.


Your task is to design a static (i.e., single image) visualization that you believe effectively communicates the data and provide a short write-up (no more than 4 paragraphs) describing your design.

As different visualizations can emphasize different aspects of a data set, you should document what aspects of the data you are attempting to most effectively communicate. In short, what story (or stories) are you trying to tell? Just as important, also note which aspects of the data might be obscured or down-played due to your visualization design.

In your write-up, you should provide a rigorous rationale for your design decisions. Document the visual encodings you used and why they are appropriate for the data. These decisions include the choice of visualization type, size, color, scale, and other visual elements, as well as the use of sorting or other data transformations. How do these decisions facilitate effective communication?

Submission Details

This is an individual assignment. You may not work in groups. Your completed assignment is due on Mon Sep 28, by 7:00am.

To submit your assignment, create a new wiki page with a title of the form:


Your submission page should include your write up and a copy of your visualization in a standard image file format (JPG, PNG, or GIF). You can use the "Attachments" link found at the bottom of a page to attach your image to your assignment page.

You should also create a link to your submission in the list below. The first entry in the list is an example.

Add a link to your finished assignment here