The amount and complexity of information produced in science, engineering, business, and everyday human activity is increasing at staggering rates. The goal of this course is to expose you to visual representation methods and techniques that increase the understanding of complex data. Good visualizations not only present a visual interpretation of data, but do so by improving comprehension, communication, and decision making.

In this course you will learn how the human visual system processes and perceives images, good design practices for visualization, methods for visualization of data from a variety of fields, and programming of interactive web-based visualizations using D3.

This website is for both the Harvard college CS 171 course and the Harvard Extension School CSCI E-171 course.

Limited enrollment: To provide the best possible learning experience this course has limited enrollment. We only admit 80 college students and 40 Extension school students.
College students: If you are interested in joining this course please complete HW 0 and the enrollment survey on our Canvas page. The deadline for the enrollment survey is Aug 24th. You will be notified about your enrollment on the 25th and have to confirm enrollment by end of day of Aug 25th or your spot will be given away. DCE students: Course enrollment is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Instructor and TFs

Hanspeter Pfister (Instructor)
Johanna Beyer (Head TF)

Course Sessions

Lectures & Labs:
College students: Monday and Wednesday 2:15-3:30pm, Location: 114 Western Ave, Room 2111+2112

DCE students: Monday (7:00-8:30pm) and Thursday (7:00-7:45pm), online video conference.

Office Hours:
Office hours are posted here.

Lecture Resources:
Discussion forum (acces via Canvas) Materials and grades on Canvas

Teaching Fellows

  • Zhutian Chen - Postdoc, Visual Computing Group
  • Jakob Troidl - Phd Student, Visual Computing Group
  • Robert Roessler - Phd Candidate, German Studies
  • Kidist Alemu - AB/SM Computer Science
  • Elizabeth Ling - Computer Science concentrator
  • Eshika Saxena - Computer Science concentrator
  • Xinyi Li - MS in Data Science, G2
  • Ethan McFarlin - Computer Science concentrator
  • Diana Feng - PhD Student, Education (Learning, Innovation and Education Lab)
  • SSiva Thangaraj - Specialist, Data Analytics / Cloud Infrastructure
  • Richard Morello - Data Science, Harvard MLA Extension Studies

Previous Years

2021 Fall Website

2020 Fall Website

2019 Fall Website

2018 Fall Website

2017 Fall Website

2016 Fall Website

2016 Spring Website

2015 Website 2015 Video Archive

2014 Website 2014 Video Archive

2013 Video Archive

2012 Video Archive