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Force-directed graph drawing

Physical simulation to visualize graphs / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Force-directed graph drawing algorithms are a class of algorithms for drawing graphs in an aesthetically-pleasing way. Their purpose is to position the nodes of a graph in two-dimensional or three-dimensional space so that all the edges are of more or less equal length and there are as few crossing edges as possible, by assigning forces among the set of edges and the set of nodes, based on their relative positions, and then using these forces either to simulate the motion of the edges and nodes or to minimize their energy.[2]

Social network visualization using a force-directed graph drawing algorithm[1]
Visualization of links between pages on a wiki using a force-directed layout

While graph drawing can be a difficult problem, force-directed algorithms, being physical simulations, usually require no special knowledge about graph theory such as planarity.