IPSep-CoLa: An Incremental Procedure for Separation Constraint Layout of Graphs. We extend the popular force-directed approach to network (or graph) layout to allow separation constraints, which enforce a minimum horizontal or vertical separation between selected pairs of nodes. This simple class of linear constraints is expressive enough to satisfy a wide variety of application-specific layout requirements, including: layout of directed graphs to better show flow; layout with non-overlapping node labels; and layout of graphs with grouped nodes (called clusters). In the stress majorization force-directed layout process, separation constraints can be treated as a quadratic programming problem. We give an incremental algorithm based on gradient projection for efficiently solving this problem. The algorithm is considerably faster than using generic constraint optimization techniques and is comparable in speed to unconstrained stress majorization. We demonstrate the utility of our technique with sample data from a number of practical applications including gene-activation networks, terrorist networks and visualization of high-dimensional data.

This software is also peer reviewed by journal TOMS.