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June 29, 2014 AT 2:00 am

Visualizing Algorithms

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By using beautiful visualizations, Mike Bostock shows us algorithms for sampling, shuffling and maze generation. His visualizations are a fascinating way to show us how each algorithm works and how each one differs from the other.

Algorithms are a fascinating use case for visualization. To visualize an algorithm, we don’t merely fit data to a chart; there is no primary dataset. Instead there are logical rules that describe behavior. This may be why algorithm visualizations are so unusual, as designers experiment with novel forms to better communicate. This is reason enough to study them.

But algorithms are also a reminder that visualization is more than a tool for finding patterns in data. Visualization leverages the human visual system to augment human intellect: we can use it to better understand these important abstract processes, and perhaps other things, too.

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