Networks offer an intuitive visual representation of complex systems. Important network characteristics can often be recognized by eye and, in turn, patterns that stand out visually often have a meaningful interpretation. In conventional network layout algorithms, however, the precise determinants of a node’s position within a layout are difficult to decipher and to control. Here we propose an approach for directly encoding arbitrary structural or functional network characteristics into node positions. We introduce a series of two- and three-dimensional layouts, benchmark their efficiency for model networks, and demonstrate their power for elucidating structure-to-function relationships in large-scale biological networks.
D. Pokorny, L. Truebestein, K. D. Fleming, J. E. Burke, and T. A. Leonard