Info 190

Introduction to Data Visualization

3 units

Course Description

This course introduces students to data visualization: the use of the visual channel for gaining insight with data, exploring data, and as a way to communicate insights, observations, and results with other people.

The field of information visualization is flourishing today, with beautiful designs and applications ranging from journalism to marketing to data science. This course will introduce foundational principles and relevant perceptual properties to help students become discerning judges of data displayed visually. The course will also introduce key practical techniques and include extensive hands-on exercises to enable students to become skilled at telling stories with data using modern information visualization tools.

Students will be asked to complete assignments before class, work together in small groups in class, and provide peer assessments. Grades will be based on assignments, quizzes, in class participation, peer assessment quality, 2 midterms, and a final project. The assignments for the course will together work towards building a coherent visualization that tells a story and is visible on the web.


This course is designed for upper division undergraduates who have an interest in design and in data. It is intended to accommodate students who have only a limited programming background, as well as those who are skilled with programming. For this reason, the only prerequisite is CS/Stat/Info 8 or equivalent. This course assumes students already have familiarity with basic data analysis and manipulation, and basic statistics.

Students are encouraged but not required to have taken other courses from the introductory design sequence (one of DES INV 10- Discovering Design DES INV 15- Design Methodology, DES INV 21- Visual Communications & Sketching, CS 160 User Interface Design and Development), as well as other introductory data science and statistics courses.

Graduate students will be accommodated only as space permits.

For Computer Science Students

Those students from Computer Science who would prefer a programming component, and who would like to receive technical course requirement credits for this course should enroll in a 1 unit optional companion course that is being offered alongside this course. This companion course will teach JavaScript and d3.js for information visualization applications.


The course instructor is Professor Marti Hearst, one of the founders of the IEEE Infovis Conference. She is also a leader in the latest wave of innovations in teaching data visualization, and co-organized high-profile events on this topic at IEEE Infoviz 2015, 2016, and 2017. Prof. Hearst is internationally known for her research in user interfaces for search and text visualization, having recently been inducted into the ACM CHI Academy.

Last updated:

April 21, 2017