School of Computing

Automatic Metro Map Layout Using Multicriteria Optimization

Jonathan Stott, Peter Rodgers, Juan Carlos Martinez-Ovando, and Stephen G. Walker

Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 16(1):182-196, January 2011 The pdf contains both the main paper and the appendices. [doi].


This paper describes an automatic mechanism for drawing metro maps. We apply multicriteria optimization to find effective placement of stations with a good line layout and to label the map unambiguously. A number of metrics are defined, which are used in a weighted sum to find a fitness value for a layout of the map. A hill climbing optimizer is used to reduce the fitness value, and find improved map layouts. To avoid local minima, we apply clustering techniques to the map � the hill climber moves both stations and clusters when finding improved layouts.

We show the method applied to a number of metro maps, and describe an empirical study that provides some quantitative evidence that automatically-drawn metro maps can help users to find routes more efficiently than either published maps or undistorted maps. Moreover, we found that, in these cases, study subjects indicate a preference for automatically-drawn maps over the alternatives.

Download publication 2268 kbytes (PDF)

Bibtex Record

author = {Jonathan Stott and Peter Rodgers and  Juan Carlos Martinez-Ovando and Stephen G. Walker},
title = {{Automatic Metro Map Layout Using Multicriteria Optimization}},
month = {January},
year = {2011},
pages = {182-196},
keywords = {determinacy analysis, Craig interpolants},
note = {The pdf contains both the main paper and the appendices.},
doi = {10.1109/TVCG.2010.24},
url = {},
    publication_type = {article},
    submission_id = {9009_1256911357},
    journal = {Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics},
    publisher = {IEEE},
    volume = {16},
    number = {1},

School of Computing, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

Enquiries: +44 (0)1227 824180 or contact us.

Last Updated: 21/03/2014