vis teaser

The amount and complexity of information produced in science, engineering, business, and everyday human activity is increasing at staggering rates. The goal of this course is to expose you to visual representation methods and techniques that increase the understanding of complex data. Visualization for data discovery and communication is an important part of the data science pipeline. Good visualizations not only present a visual interpretation of data, but do so by improving comprehension, communication, and decision making.

In this course you will learn about the fundamentals of perception, the theory of visualization, good design practices for visualization, and how to develop your own web-based visualizations using HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, SVG, and D3.

The course begins by bootstrapping your web development skills, moves on to fundamentals of perception, introduces data types you will encounter, and then focuses on visualization techniques and methods for a broad range of data types. An integral component of the course are regular design critiques and redesigns that will hone your skills in understanding, critiquing and developing visualization techniques.

The course is offered in the fall term 2020 at the University of Utah in three variants: CS-5630 and DS-4630 for undergraduate computer science and data science students; and CS-6630 for graduate students, with a special section of CS-6630 (002) designated for the data science certificate students. Classes start on Tuesday, August 25.

Due to COVID-19, this class is taught in the “IVC” (Interactive Video Conferencing) form, which means we will use live-video conferencing via Zoom. We will also use Slack for asynchronous communication, and Canvas for submission of assignments. All classes and sections are also archived online.


Alexander Lex,
E-Mail:, please do not send me canvas messages.
Phone: (801) 585-0327
Office: WEB 3887
See the schedule for office hours.

Teaching Assistants

Devin Lange, PhD student, Visualization / Computer Science
Haihan Lin, PhD student, Visualization / Computer Science
Youjia Zhou, PhD student, Visualization / Computer Science
Jeff Kelso, MS student, Computer Science

See the schedule for office hours.


Lectures: Tuesday and Thursday 12:25–1:45 pm, on Zoom
Labs: By announcement on Mondays, 5:00-6:30 pm, on Zoom
Live Video: YouTube Channel
Archived Video: YouTube Playlist
Grades: Canvas
Discussion: Slack – please join with your address and use your real name.

Previous Versions of this Class

If you want to look ahead in the class (in particular regarding slides) you can browse previous versions of the class:

Utah CS-5630/CS-6630 2019
Utah CS-5630/CS-6630 2018
Utah CS-5630/CS-6630 2017
Utah CS-5630/CS-6630 2016
Utah CS-5630/CS-6630 2015

This class is based on two different courses:

Harvard CS 171 2015
Instructor: Alexander Lex

Utah CS-5630/CS5660 2014
Instructor: Miriah Meyer