Graph Theory – what is the connection?

All you have to do is connect the dots. Such a common phrase used for thinking, games, even for directions but let’s take it to another level and relate it to information design, specifically graph theory. “Network science originated in graph theory, and the mathematical foundations set by Leonhard Euler in the eighteenth century” (Meirelles p.48).  Euler questioned if someone could walk across 7 bridges in Konigsberg, which was a capital in Prussia during this time, crossing each bridge once. His use of a graph to solve this problem showed it could not be done, but a new information design theory was created. Building these networks or graphs establishes relationships by “…capturing only the basics of connection patterns and little else:” (Meirelles p.48).

I believe sometimes less in more and visual connections can provide the viewer with the magnitude of a situation or the answer to a puzzle. It can look dynamic and explain a lot. A benefit to the viewer who is using this information.

On the flipside, it could look confusing if you do not have a direct understanding or explanation of what message is being conveyed.

“Footballers Search Relations Network Graph” by yaph is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

There are pros and cons to this theory – which would lead to reason it needs to be used suitably. Put another way, it must connect not confuse.


Meierelles, Isabel, “Relational Structure Networks”, Design for Information, Rockport Publishers, 2013

Creative Commons

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