Geography (or spatial arrangement) of nodes is often an important factor in network dynamics. Though it is straightforward to map geographical information by itself, mapping that information simultaneously with network data is quite a challenge.
In collaboration with Holly Massett and her team at the National Cancer Institute, I have been tackling the geographic + network mapping problem head on. Holly and I recently presented some of our results, and she graciously gave me permission to share them.
What happens when we draw a network map with geographically located nodes? We get a map with lines on it:
The geography is plainly apparent, but the network structure is all but invisible. That's a shame, because the network structure hidden above is actually quite striking when you redraw the above network using traditional network layout techniques:
Now we can clearly see that there is one node that bridges between two distinct clusters.
As a simple first step toward integrating these two important views of the above collaboration network, I created this slide show, which morphs back and forth between pure geography and pure network information, showing the interaction of the two along the way (RSS readers must view my actual blog to see this):
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