CSC 696D - Advanced Topics in Visualization and Graphics

Course Syllabus

Description of Course

This is a research-oriented seminar course addressing selected advanced current topics in visualization and graphics, broadly defined to include both the theory and applications. Exemplar domains include data visualization, computer graphics, computational geometry, visual analytics, data analysis, imaging, visual interfaces, geometric modeling, perception & cognition, computer-aided geometric design, display technologies, and virtual & augmented reality. Within a domain, topics will be selected based on current literature as well as faculty and student interests.

Course Prerequisites or Co-requisites

None. Ideally, a student will have completed CSC 544 or equivalent. Completed material in computer graphics topics (e.g. CSC 433/533 or equivalent) as well as undergraduate visualization (e.g. CSC 444) are helpful but not required. While students majoring in areas other than CSC are encouraged to enroll, certain topics may prove challenging. Please contact the instructor if you are unsure if you satisfy the prerequisites.

Instructor and Contact Information

Course Format and Teaching Methods

Primarily, the course format is small group, in-class discussion; we will most often function as a reading group. Students will rotate and take turns as discussion leader, and they will be responsible for completing a project presentation. Out-of-class activities include readings and critically thinking about relevant textbook and research papers and completing a summative research project.

Obtaining Help

Advising: If you have questions about your academic progress this semester, or your chosen degree program, consider contacting your graduate program coordinator and faculty advisor. Your program coordinator, faculty advisor, and the Graduate Center can guide you toward university resources to help you succeed.Computer Science students are encouraged to email for advising related questions.

Life challenges: If you are experiencing unexpected barriers to your success in your courses, please note the Dean of Students Office is a central support resource for all students and may be helpful. The Dean of Students Office can be reached at 520-621-2057 or

Physical and mental-health challenges: If you are facing physical or mental health challenges this semester, please note that Campus Health provides quality medical and mental health care. For medical appointments, call (520-621-9202. For After Hours care, call (520) 570-7898. For the Counseling & Psych Services (CAPS) 24/7 hotline, call (520) 621-3334.

Course Objectives

This course will provide students with an overview of the landscape of visualization research, with the objective of exposing students to open problems and solution methodologies. Students will investigate how a research project is conceived, conducted, and communicated, as it applies to the specific subfield of visualization as well as computer science research in general.

Expected Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will:

  1. be knowledgeable of cutting edge research in the field of visualization;
  2. recall, explain, and evaluate contributions to visualization research; and
  3. undertake creative work that identifies and performs new research leveraging the body of existing research in visualization

Additional outcomes will involve developing and strengthening skills for:

  1. identifying, reading, and critiquing visualization research;
  2. proposing new research directions and executing work that investigates them; and
  3. communicating findings and discoveries through written and oral presentation.

Course Content


The class will meet M/W 5:00-6:15pm at Gould-Simpson, Rm 701, in person. Lectures will not be recorded live.

Lecture Schedule

Week Date Monday Date Wednesday
1 Jan 10 -- No Class -- Jan 12 Introduction
2 Jan 17 -- MLK Day -- Jan 19 Reading
3 Jan 24 Communicating Jan 26 Literature Review 1-1
4 Jan 31 Literature Review 1-2 Feb 02 Literature Review 1-3
5 Feb 07 Literature Review 1-4 Feb 09 Literature Review 1-5
6 Feb 14 Proposal Pitches Feb 16 Literature Review 2-1
7 Feb 21 Literature Review 2-2 Feb 23 Literature Review 2-3
8 Feb 28 Literature Review 2-4 Mar 02 Literature Review 2-5
9 Mar 07 -- Spring Break -- Mar 09 -- Spring Break --
10 Mar 14 Project Updates 1 Mar 16 Literature Review 3-1
11 Mar 21 Literature Review 3-2 Mar 23 Literature Review 3-3
12 Mar 28 Literature Review 3-4 Mar 30 Literature Review 3-5
13 Apr 04 Project Updates 2 Apr 06 Literature Review 4-1
14 Apr 11 Literature Review 4-2 Apr 13 Literature Review 4-3
15 Apr 18 Literature Review 4-4 Apr 20 Literature Review 4-5
16 Apr 25 Write-up Workshop Apr 27 Final Projects
17 May 02 Final Projects May 04 Final Projects

Required Texts and Readings

Reading for the semester will be handouts, research papers, and materials linked to on the course webpage

Participation (50% of total grade)

Participation will gauged through both in-class and asynchronous (online) participation.

Throughout the semester students will be expected to present 4 visualization research papers (one each) during our ``Literature Review’’ (LR) sessions. These presentations are worth 6% each (24% total). Students will be given at least one week notice about which paper(s) they will present. The purpose of this task is to give students practice reading and analyzing research papers, and presenting their analysis in a clear way.

Presentations are expected to be approximately 10-15 minutes, and should be thought of as a concise, mini-lecture on the paper. This will be followed by 10-15 minutes of class discussion around the paper. As such, presentations should not simply outline the papers. You will need to present the critical ideas in the paper so that your colleagues in the class have a basis for understanding your subsequent discussion. While the instructor anticipates live presentations, please discuss with the instructor if you would like to opt for a recorded presentation.

For the remaining 16 sessions that do not have an assigned paper presentation, students will be required to post a question/comment about one of the selected readings for the day to the class Piazza. These comments are due 2 hours before lecture (3:00pm). Each of these is worth 1% towards the final grade, for a total of 16%. These will be graded categorically, as defined in the Grading Scale and Grading Policies section.

The remaining 10% of class participation will be gauged based on participation in discussions on topics when not presenting as well as participation in and giving feedback for project pitches and updates. Note that the instructor does not grade on attendance, nor is attendance required for the course. That said, this component of the grade will include the instructor’s subjective judgement of the student’s contribution to a lively classroom atmosphere. Obviously, students not attending class miss out on an opportunity to contribute in this way.

Research Project (50% of total grade)

A key goal of this course is to practice the art of conducting visualization research. This research project will be comprehensive, summative, and in lieu of a final exam. Projects will be pitched and proposed by the student and agreed upon with discussion from the instructor. Throughout the semester, there will be two opportunities for updates. Upon completion, the project will be presented to the class and a final write-up will be submitted reporting on its discoveries and conclusions.

Proposal pitches and project updates will include a brief presentation portion (2-3 minutes, with 4-5 minutes of class discussion). These presentations will be graded categorically, as defined in the Grading Scale and Grading Policies section.

Proposals and updates will also include a written component. The instructor will provide substantive feedback on each document/revision that is submitted, but the grade itself will be pass/fail, with a penalty applied only if required components are not submitted or deemed not acceptable.

The final presentation will be a more substantive presentation, similar in scope to the presentations given during the literature review sessions and thus graded similarly. The final project write-up will also be expected to be more substantive and graded in detail. By the end of the semester, the goal is that the student has prepared a draft manuscript which could eventually be submitted to a visualization research venue. Obviously, many research projects could likely take more than the semester to finish, so while this is what we are aiming at, grading expectations will be scoped for time available.

In addition to presentations and write-ups, 10% of the grade in this class will be based on the overall execution and content of the research project. Note that it will not be graded on research novelty, but rather on how and if the project successfully completed the proposed research (adjusted to reflect progress updates through the semester).

Course Policies

Grading Scale and Grading Policies

Grades will be assigned based on the following scale:

Grading will be based on performance on various forms of class participation and completion of a visualization research project, with percentages towards the final grade listed as follows:

A specific rubric on how each element it is graded will be provided on the course website. These will include a mix of Pass/Fall grades, categorical grading (using categories of “Excellent”, “Good”, “OK”, “Poor”, and “Incomplete” as the only feedback), and grading on a scale between 0 and 100 points. Scores will be weighted according to the relative point value as highlighted above.

For items with pass/fail grading schemes (project write-ups other than the final write-up), “Pass” corresponds to 100% of the point value and “Fail” corresponds to 0%. The instructor will provide substantive (writen) feedback to explain grades.

For items with categorical grading schemes (asynchronous discussion, project presentations other than the final presentation), categories will be converted to numeric scores corresponding to the categories, specifically Excellent: 100% of point value, Good: 88%, OK: 75%, Poor: 65%, Incomplete: 0%. No additional written feedback will be provided, although for some elements (particularly presentations), feedback will be provided in-class.

For all items using more extension numeric rubrics (LR paper presentations, final presentation, final write-up) the instructor will provide substantive (written) feedback to match the rubric used within the item description.

Due Dates and Graded By Dates


Name Due Date Graded By Percentage
LR Paper Selection Jan 19, Feb 9, Mar 9, Mar 30 Ungraded
LR Paper Presentation Once per LR session One week after presenting 24
LR Asynchronous Discussion Four times per LR session Next Day 16
Overall Particitipation Regularly End of Semester 10
Total Percentage: 50

Research Project Milestones

(Note that these dates correspond to when the associated write-ups are due. The corresponding presentations will be expected in the lecture prior to the due date, so as to give students the opportunity to incorporate in-class feedback into their write-ups.)

Milestone Topic Post Date Due Date Graded By Percentage
P1 Proposal/Pitch Jan 26 Feb 16 Feb 23 8
P2 Progress Update 1 Feb 16 Mar 16 Mar 23 6
P3 Progress Update 2 Mar 16 Apr 06 Apr 13 6
P4 Final Submission Apr 06 May 04 May 11 30
Total Percentage: 50

Department of Computer Science Grading Policy

  1. Instructors will explicitly promise when every assignment and exam will be graded and returned to students. These promised dates will appear in the syllabus, associated with the corresponding due dates and exam dates.
  2. Graded homework will be returned before the next homework is due.
  3. Exams will be returned “promptly”, as defined by the instructor (and as promised in the syllabus).
  4. Grading delays beyond promised return-by dates will be announced as soon as possible with an explanation for the delay.

Requests for incomplete (I) or withdrawal (W)

Request must be made in accordance with University policies, which are available at and, respectively.

Dispute of Grade Policy

After receiving any grade for any submission, a student has 24 hours to respond to the instructor with any disputes in an email with the subject “Grade Dispute”. Such a response must enumerate a specific set of disputed items for the submission and provide evidence that each item was improperly graded. The instructor will then completely regrade the entire submission, including both the disputed items as well as non-disputed items, with the potential for all aspects of the grade to change.

Submission, Lateness, and Revision Policy

All graded work has a fixed due date. Revisions and resubmissions after grading will not be accepted.

Submission for write-ups will be due on 11:59:59PM of the due date unless otherwise noted. A late submission will receive a penalty of 10% per day for each work day it is late, up to a maximum of 5 days late. Grades for work submitted late may not be posted within the same time frame as work submitted on time, but the instructor will make their best effort to expedite the grading of late submissions.

Absence and Class Participation Policy

The UA’s policy concerning Class Attendance, Participation, and Administrative Drops is available at

The UA policy regarding absences for any sincerely held religious belief, observance or practice will be accommodated where reasonable:

Absences for groups of more than three students that are pre-approved by the UA Dean of Students (or Dean Designee) will be honored. See:

Participating in the course and attending lectures and other course events are vital to the learning process. That said, attendance is not required for lectures. To request a disability-related accommodation to this attendance policy, please contact the Disability Resource Center at (520) 621-3268 or If you are experiencing unexpected barriers to your success in your courses, the Dean of Students Office is a central support resource for all students and may be helpful. The Dean of Students Office is located in the Robert L. Nugent Building, room 100, or call 520-621-7057.

Nevertheless, failing to stay up-to-date on course content may affect a student’s final course grade. Class participation is an important part of your grade in this course, and it is difficult for a student to participate and the instructor to gauge participation if a student does not attend.

Illnesses and Emergencies

Statement on compliance with COVID-19 mitigation guidelines

As we enter the Spring semester, your and my health and safety remain the university’s highest priority. To protect the health of everyone in this class, students are required to follow the university guidelines on COVID-19 mitigation. Please visit

Makeup Policy for Students Who Register Late

Students who register after the first class meeting may make up missed assignments at a deadline set in consultation with the instructor.

Course Communications

We will use official UA email and Piazza as the primary mode of contact. D2L will be used only for the instructor to securely distribute the course calendar, class materials, and grades to students.

Late Instructor

Your instructor will make every effort to be in class on time, or to inform you of any delay or cancellation. In the unusual event that he should not arrive in class or send word by 15 minutes from the class start time, the class is officially cancelled.

Department and University Policies

Department of Computer Science Code of Conduct

The Department of Computer Science is committed to providing and maintaining a supportive educational environment for all. We strive to be welcoming and inclusive, respect privacy and confidentiality, behave respectfully and courteously, and practice intellectual honesty. Disruptive behaviors (such as physical or emotional harassment, dismissive attitudes, and abuse of department resources) will not be tolerated. The complete Code of Conduct is available on our department web site. We expect that you will adhere to this code, as well as the UA Student Code of Conduct, while you are a member of this class.

Classroom Behavior Policy

To foster a positive learning environment, students and instructors have a shared responsibility. We want a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment where all of us feel comfortable with each other and where we can challenge ourselves to succeed. To that end, our focus is on the tasks at hand and not on extraneous activities (e.g., texting, chatting, reading a newspaper, making phone calls, web surfing, etc.).

Students are asked to refrain from disruptive conversations with people sitting around them during lecture.

Some learning styles are best served by using personal electronics, such as laptops and iPads. Nevertheless, these devices can be distracting to other learners. While all students are welcome to use personal electronics in class, they must be used in a way that does not disrupt either the instructor or other students’ experience.

Students observed engaging in disruptive activity will be asked to cease this behavior. Those who continue to disrupt the class will be asked to leave lecture or discussion and may be reported to the Dean of Students.

Threatening Behavior Policy

The UA Threatening Behavior by Students Policy prohibits threats of physical harm to any member of the University community, including to oneself. See

Content Warning

While the instructor does not intend to include topics and/or course material includes content that are explicit or offensive in any way. The instructor will make every effort to provide advance notice when such materials may potentially be or potentially violate this intent. Please contact the instructor to discuss any content-related concerns, as alternative materials may be available.

Accessibility and Accommodations

At the University of Arizona, we strive to make learning experiences as accessible as possible. If you anticipate or experience barriers based on disability or pregnancy, please contact the Disability Resource Center (520-621-3268, to establish reasonable accommodations.

Code of Academic Integrity

Students are encouraged to share intellectual views and discuss freely the principles and applications of course materials. However, graded work/exercises must be the product of independent effort unless otherwise instructed. Students are expected to adhere to the UA Code of Academic Integrity as described in the UA General Catalog. See

Uploading material from this course to a website other than D2L (or the class piazza) is strictly prohibited and will be considered a violation of the course policy and a violation of the code of academic integrity. Obtaining material associated with this course (or previous offerings of this course) on a site other than D2L (or the class piazza), such as Chegg, Course Hero, etc. or accessing these sites during a quiz or exam is a violation of the code of academic integrity. Any student determined to have uploaded or accessed material in an unauthorized manner will be reported to the Dean of Students for a Code of Academic Integrity violation, with a recommended sanction of a failing grade in the course.

The University Libraries have some excellent tips for avoiding plagiarism, available at

Publicly available sources for code or other material, in small amounts, may be freely used if appropriately attributed. A good rule of thumb: when in doubt about whether the use of small snippets of code not your own in a programming assignment is allowed, first ask the instructor.

Selling class notes and/or other course materials to other students or to a third party for resale is not permitted without the instructor’s express written consent. Violations to this and other course rules are subject to the Code of Academic Integrity and may result in course sanctions. Additionally, students who use D2L or UA e-mail to sell or buy these copyrighted materials are subject to Code of Conduct Violations for misuse of student e-mail addresses. This conduct may also constitute copyright infringement.

UA Nondiscrimination and Anti-harassment Policy

The University of Arizona is committed to creating and maintaining an environment free of discrimination. In support of this commitment, the University prohibits discrimination, including harassment and retaliation, based on a protected classification, including race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information. For more information, including how to report a concern, please see

Our classroom is a place where everyone is encouraged to express well-formed opinions and their reasons for those opinions. We also want to create a tolerant and open environment where such opinions can be expressed without resorting to bullying or discrimination of others.

Additional Resources for Students

UA Academic policies and procedures are available at Visit the UArizona COVID-19 page for regular updates.

Campus Pantry

Any student who has difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat every day, or who lacks a safe and stable place to live and believes this may affect their performance in the course, is urged to contact the Dean of Students for support. In addition, the University of Arizona Campus Pantry is open for students to receive supplemental groceries at no cost.

Please see their website at: for open times.

Preferred Gender Pronoun

My pronoun preference: he, him, his.

This course affirms people of all gender expressions and gender identities. If you prefer to be called a different name than what is on the class roster, please let me know. Feel free to correct instructors on your preferred gender pronoun. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly in class or via email (instructor email). If you wish to change your preferred name or pronoun in the UAccess system, please use the following guidelines:

Preferred name: University of Arizona students may choose to identify themselves within the University community using a preferred first name that differs from their official/legal name. A student’s preferred name will appear instead of the person’s official/legal first name in select University-related systems and documents, provided that the name is not being used for the purpose of misrepresentation. Students are able to update their preferred names in UAccess.

Pronouns: Students may designate pronouns they use to identify themselves. Instructors and staff are encouraged to use pronouns for people that they use for themselves as a sign of respect and inclusion. Students are able to update and edit their pronouns in UAccess. More information on updating your preferred name and pronouns is available on the Office of the Registrar site at

Safety on Campus and in the Classroom

Familiarize yourself with the UA Critical Incident Response Team plans:

Department of Computer Science Evacuation Plan for Gould-Simpson:

Also watch the video available at

Confidentiality of Student Records


Land Acknowledgment

We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of Indigenous peoples. Today, Arizona is home to 22 federally recognized tribes, with Tucson being home to the O’odham and the Yaqui. Committed to diversity and inclusion, the University strives to build sustainable relationships with sovereign Native Nations and Indigenous communities through education offerings, partnerships, and community service.

Subject to Change Statement

Information contained in the course syllabus, other than the grade and absence policy, may be subject to change with advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.