Michael K. Coleman and D. Stott Parker
Software -- Practice & Experience. 26:12, pp.1415--1438, December 1996.
Automatic graph layout is an important and long-studied problem in computer science. The basic straight-edge graph layout problem is: Given a graph, position the vertices in a way which maximizes some measure of desirability. When graph layout is intended for human consumption, we call this measure of desirability an aesthetic. We seek an algorithm which produces graph layouts of high aesthetic quality, and which handles trees, directed acyclic graphs, and general graphs.
Our approach is to model graph layout as a multiobjective optimization problem, where the value of a layout is determined by a user-controlled set of layout aesthetics. We justify this model theoretically, and describe our AGLO algorithm and its implementation, the aglo library.
The AGLO algorithm combines the power and flexibility of the simulated annealing approach of Davidson and Harel (1989) with the relative speed of the method of Fruchterman and Reingold (1991), and provides a better theoretical foundation for these methods. In addition, we have developed several new layout aesthetics to support new layout styles. Using these aesthetics, we are able to produce pleasing displays for graphs on which these other methods flounder.