21st International Symposium on
Graph Drawing
23-25 September 2013, Bordeaux (Talence), France

Graph Drawing Challenge

Area Minimization for Orthogonal Grid Layouts

We shall hold the Graph Drawing Challenge in a format similar to a typical programming contest. At the start of the challenge, teams of contestants will receive the collection of challenge graphs. After one hour, the teams will submit their final drawings and the team with the highest cumulative score wins.

Teams will be allowed to use any combination of software and human interaction systems to produce the best drawings. To accommodate both teams wishing to prepare for the challenge and teams wishing simply to participate, with no preparation, we will be providing, in advance, a small set of graph visualization tools. These tools are not necessarily meant to solve the problems at hand but are there to help the teams manually draw and manipulate the graphs. To further the development of new tools and to help promote tools already in existence, teams are also welcome and highly encouraged to create and bring their own software packages.

There will be two categories in the challenge that are judged independently:

  • Automatic: This category is for teams using their own tool. Since we assume that the tool contains special algorithms to solve the challenge automatically, these teams will receive larger challenge graphs. Manual fine-tuning is allowed.
  • Manual: This category is for teams using the provided graph editor. The graph editor does not contain any specific algorithm to solve the challenge. It allows only to move nodes and to re-route edges. This category is for creating manual solutions without help of an automatic algorithm. Teams in this category will receive smaller challenge graphs.

The challenge focuses on minimizing the area for orthogonal grid layouts. Edge crossings are allowed, and the input graphs may be non-planar. The input graphs are 4-ary (maximally 4 incident edges per node). Nodes have no dimension, they can essentially be considered as points. All drawings must have the following properties:

  • All nodes are placed on distinct integer grid locations.
  • Edges must be routed orthogonally, that is, they must consist of segments that are strictly horizontal or strictly vertical.
  • All edge bends must be on integer grid coordinates. There is no limit on the number of bends.
  • Edge crossings are allowed. In that case, the edge crossing occupies the grid location. There is no limit on the number of crossings.
  • Overlaps are forbidden: Each grid location can contain at most one of the following:
    • a node
    • an edge segment
    • a bend of an edge (two edges may not share a bend point)
    • an edge crossing
  • The area of the layout is the size (in grid points) of the smallest rectangle that encloses the layout (including all edges). We are looking for the smallest area.

The results are judged solely with respect to the area; other aesthetic criteria are not taken into account. This allows an objective way to qualitatively evaluate a given drawing.

Here is an overview of the rules for the challenge:

  • The challenge will take place for one hour during the Graph Drawing Symposium.
  • Teams may consist of one to three participants each. Although a few computers will be provided, each team should bring their own computers and/or software tools to the challenge.
  • Software tools for manually solving the challenge will be provided for each team with time available prior to the challenge to set-up and practice with the system.
  • At the start of the challenge, contestants will receive a collection of five to ten graphs. The graphs will have twenty to a few thousand nodes.
  • The graphs will have an initial, orthogonal layout.
  • For each graph, the team submitting the drawing with the smallest area receives the highest score. Scores for other submissions of the same graph shall be weighed with respect to this value. The team with the highest total score over all graphs wins.

Remote Participation

For those teams that cannot attend the conference but still wish to compete (in the automatic category), we allow remote participation. A few key points:

  • Participants should contact the committee prior to the contest (no later than September 17), and preferably as early as possible, to help determine the number of remote teams and to coordinate the instructions.
  • At the time of the challenge, remote teams will be able to access an online location (website) to download the data sets and then simply submit the results via email.
  • Detailed submission instructions will be provided on this site at a later time.

File Format

For the GD2013 contest, an ASCII format described below will be used. The contest graphs will be provided in this format and the final submissions should be prepared using the same format. It is the same file format that we used in the contests of GD2010 and GD2011.

  • The first number (N) indicates the number of nodes in the graph.
  • The next 2N numbers contain the coordinates of the nodes. Each coordinate consists of the x and the y value of the node, indicating its position.
  • The remainder of the file contains the edges. For each edge, the first value is the index of the source node, and the second value is the index of the target node. Next follows an array with an even number of values, enclosed by [ ... ], which are the x and y coordinates of the bend points of the edge.
  • An edge that has no bend points is written as an empty bend array [].
  • The nodes are labeled from 0 to N-1 and the order from the input file must be used in the output file as well.
  • Comments are allowed as indicated below.
  • The edge order is not important.
  • The contest graphs will have random start locations for the nodes.
  • All numbers are integers.

Sample File

Below is a simple example:

# Lines starting with # are comments and ignored
# First value is NumNodes(N)
# Next N pairs are x and y coordinate values of each node
4 2  # Node 0
2 4  # Node 1
4 4  # Node 2
6 4  # Node 3
4 6  # Node 4
# Remaining lines are the edges.
# The first value is the source node.
# The second value is the target node.
# The values between [ ... ] are grouped in pairs as bend points (X,Y)
1 0 [ 2 2 ]             # Edge between Node 1 and Node 0 with bend point (2,2)
0 3 [ 6 2 ]             # Edge between Node 0 and Node 3 with bend point (6,2)
2 1 []                  # Edge between Node 2 and Node 1 with no bend points
2 3 []                  # Edge between Node 2 and Node 3 with no bend points
0 2 []                  # Edge between Node 0 and Node 2 with no bend points
1 4 [ 2 6 ]             # Edge between Node 1 and Node 4 with bend point (2,6)
4 3 [ 6 6 ]             # Edge between Node 4 and Node 3 with bend point (6,6)
0 4 [ 4 0 0 0 0 8 4 8 ] # Edge with bend points (4,0), (0,0), (0,8) and (4,8)

The diagram below corresponds to this input file. This layout is not optimal, since it can be compressed. The smallest bounding rectangle around the drawing occupies 63 grid points (it is 7 grid points wide and 9 grid points tall).

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