CTHRU: A composition-based taxonomy of information graphics

Categorizing images

Perceptual considerations

Data-type and task-based taxonomies

Table 1: Terms from data-type taxonomies

Table 2: Terms from task-based taxonomies

Composition-based taxonomies

The CTHRU Taxonomy

Graphical elements


Relational operators

Symbolic Notation

Table 3: Graphical elements, transforms, and relations

shape		o
surface #
position	+
size ×
orientation †
connects	||	A|B|  
"A connects B"

contains {} A{B}
"A contains B"

composed of [] A[B]
"A is composed of B"

corresponds to <> A<B>
"A corresponds to B" or
"A is a function of B"

contextualizes / B/A
"B is in A space" or
"A contextualizes B"

Table 4: Animating graphical elements and transforms

shape       	o   	morph		∆o
surface # resurface ∆#
position    	+   	translation   	∆+
size × scale ∆×
orientation † turn ∆†


Table 5: Providing context

/o	shape space
- drawing
/# surface space
- color space
- texture map
- gradient
/+ position/metric space
- Cartesian coordinate frame
/× size/scale space
- space-filling diagram
(pie chart, tree diagram)
/† orientation space
- flow field
- quiver plot
/|| connector space
- network diagrams
- node-link graph
/{} container space
- table
/[] composite space
- mosaic
- tiling
- fractal
/<> correspondence/function space
- color map
(color as a function
of some other property)
/o/+	shape/metric space
- latitude-longitude map
(shape space constrained
by a metric space)


Table 6: A few example compositions

  • bar chart: “positioned, scaled objects”
  • scatter plot with scaled icons: “scaled shapes in a metric space”
  • political map of the world with latitude and longitude lines: “different shapes with different surface properties in a metric space”
  • spreadsheet with numbers: “numbers in a container space”
  • flowchart: “directed links connecting different shapes containing text”

Conclusion and future work





brain imaging, visualization, mobile health, open science

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Arno Klein

Arno Klein

brain imaging, visualization, mobile health, open science

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