This year, we have a unique opportunity to participate in the largest international conference for visualization research, IEEE VIS 2021. The conference is hosted entirely virtually, and in addition we are running an in person satellite event, AZ VIS 2021, to host viewings of many of the sessions as well as engage the local visualization communities through local programming.

Your task in this assignment is to study the space of visualization research and gain exposure to this field. To do so, we will be using the above framework of events to offer opportunities for engagement directly with the conference. Attendance is entirely free for students.

In this assignment, you will write a short report about your experiences.

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This assignment is designed to help students gain exposure to visualization research. Specific objectives include:

  • Discovering the breadth of visualization research topics
  • Experiencing the mix of practical and theoretical topics, especially as they relate to the material discussed within the course itself
  • Describing your experiences in written form


For this assignment, your objective is simple: learn more about the space of visualization research through self-study and/or immersion in the premier visualization research conference (IEEE VIS 2021).

During the week of IEEE VIS (October 24-29), there will be no class lectures held at the usual time. Instead, the class will be asked to participate in the conference that is happening live during that week. There are three possible ways in which you can engage, and you may select any of them:

  1. Attend at least one 90 minute session from the satellite event AZ VIS 2021, and describe your experiences. The complete schedule for this is event is forthcoming, but you can anticipate available time slots to watch events between 8am and 11:30am on Tuesday - Friday.
  2. Watch a 90 minute session of the virtual conference at home at a time of your choosing.
  3. Read a visualization research paper that is appearing at IEEE VIS 2021.

Regardless of which option you choose, we ask that you register for the main virtual conference at IEEE VIS 2021 Registration. Registration is free for students and it will give you access to all of the content of the conference (both a link to the talks that will appear on online as well as the papers themselves will be sent to everyone who registers). You may also find pdf copies of many of the papers of the conference by searching online (they should be freely available on campus / VPN through IEEE Xplore and/or

Note that a preliminary program is currently online to help you get a feel for the sessions themselves (not that the times are in CDT, or 2 hours off from local Tucson time).

Reporting on your experiences

To complete the assignment, we ask that you fill out a report that covers 3 topics:

  1. Documentation of your “plan”. Which session did you select to attend and why? If you selected a paper to read instead and write a report on, which paper did you select and why?

  2. A summary, in your own words, about what the session/paper was about. If you took notes during the session, you may include these as an appendix.

  3. A description of the connections between what you saw and what we’ve learned so far in class. Specific questions to consider:

    • Did any of the topics of the class relate to what you saw in your session/paper?
    • What aspects of visualization research did you find most interesting?
    • If the presentations/paper included visualizations of data (most will), did you find them effective? Why?
    • What aspects did you find challenging to understand?

Feel free to include any additional thoughts with the above. Your entire document should be kept to no more than 500 words (excluding any appendix material). Make sure your report includes your name.


You should use git to submit all files. All that is necessary for this assignment is a single file within the repository, report.txt (you may also submit in docx or pdf formats).



This assignment is eligible to be submitted late (with the usual late penalty from the syllabus applying)

Point Breakdown

The various aspects of the report will be equal weighted in your grade when evaluating your report.

Cumulative Relationship to Final Grade

Worth 3% of your final grade

Extra Credit

In addition to attending the conference, we are seeking volunteers who can help to coordinate the satellite event and volunteer to serve as technical support. Volunteers will be stationed within the viewing rooms and be asked to make sure the virtual sessions are displayed, as well as coordinating with the organizers of the satellite. If you are interested in doing this, please contact the instructor.