Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Measuring perceived clutter in concept diagrams

Hou, Tie; Chapman, Peter; Oliver, Ian


Tie Hou

Ian Oliver


Clutter in a diagram can be broadly defined as how visually complex the diagram is. It may be that different users perceive clutter in different ways, however. Moreover, it has been shown that, for certain types of diagrams and tasks, an increase in clutter negatively affects task performance, making quantifying clutter an important problem. In this paper we investigate the perceived clutter in concept diagrams, a visual language used for representing ontologies. Using perceptual theory and existing research on clutter for other diagrams, we propose five plausible measures for assigning clutter scores to concept diagrams. By performing an empirical study we evaluated each of these proposed measures against participants’ rankings of diagrams. Whilst more than one of our measures showed strong correlation with perceived clutter, our results suggest that a measure based on the number of points where lines cross is the most appropriate way to quantify clutter for concept diagrams.


Hou, T., Chapman, P., & Oliver, I. (2016). Measuring perceived clutter in concept diagrams. In 2016 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (Published)
Conference Name 2016 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC)
Start Date Sep 5, 2016
End Date Sep 9, 2016
Acceptance Date May 4, 2016
Online Publication Date Nov 10, 2016
Publication Date 2016-09
Deposit Date Jun 20, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jun 20, 2017
Publisher Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Series ISSN 1943-6106
Book Title 2016 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing
ISBN 9781509002528
Keywords clutter scores, perceived clutter measurement, concept diagrams, visual language, ontologies, perceptual theory
Public URL
Contract Date Jun 20, 2017


You might also like

Downloadable Citations