The worst graph layout algorithm ever

Two drawings of a layered graph, the left one with few crossings using a conventional layout and the right one with optimally maximal crossings created using our new layout.
By maximizing edge crossings with our method (WORSTisfimal), a conventional layout of a graph with 33 edges and 23 nodes can go from just 4 crossings (left) to an impressive 59 crossings (right). A thrilling and provably-optimally-worst result!

Graph layout algorithms strive to improve the utility of node-link visualizations or graph drawings by optimizing for readability criteria. One such criteria that has been widely used is to count edge crossings. Prior work has focused solely on minimizing the number of edge crossings, including provably-optimal layout algorithms for layered graphs. The research community has completely ignored the other side of the coin — can we optimally maximize edge crossings? This paper answers this question in the affirmative. Our WORSTisfimal layout algorithm produces the most unreadable layered graph drawing. It does so by using linear programming to produce a provably-optimally-awful solution. We hope that this groundbreaking result opens up an entirely new field of inquiry for graph drawing researchers — optimally-worst layout algorithms.

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The worst graph layout algorithm ever

Sara Di Bartolomeo, Matěj Lang, and Cody Dunne. Proc. alt.VIS workshop at IEEE VIS—alt.VIS. 2022

PDF | Preprint | DOI | Supplement | Award | BibTeX | alt.VIS The Worst (Algorithm) award!

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