There are multiple CSE6242 sections. This is the course homepage for campus CSE6242A,Q/CX4242A.

CSE6242A,Q/CX4242A Fall 2021
Data and Visual Analytics

Georgia Tech, College of Computing

"DVA Live" on Tue & Thu, 3:30pm-4:45pm (Atlanta time) via BlueJeans Event 

Prof. Duen Horng (Polo) Chau
Associate Professor, School of Computational Science & Engineering
Associate Director, Master of Science in Analytics
Machine Learning Area Leader, College of Computing
Director of Industry Relations, Institute for Data Engineering and Science (IDEaS)
Associate Director of Corporate Relations, Center for Machine Learning (ML@GT)
Director, Polo Club of Data Science

Dr. Mahdi Roozbahani
Lecturer, School of Computational Science & Engineering
This course will introduce you to broad classes of techniques and tools for analyzing and visualizing data at scale. It emphasizes on how to complement computation and visualization to perform effective analysis. We will cover methods from each side, and hybrid ones that combine the best of both worlds. Students will work in small teams to complete a significant project exploring novel approaches for interactive data & visual analytics.

Course Goals

  • Learn visual and computation techniques and tools, for typical data types
    • Learn how to complement each kind of methods
    • Gain a breadth of knowledge
  • Work on real datasets and problems
  • Learn practical know-how (useful for jobs, research) through significant hands-on programming assignments


We thank the generous support of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure for free cloud credits, Intel for curriculum development of the memory mapping module (scaling up algorithms with virtual memory), and Tableau for data visualization software.

Announcements and Discussion

The fastest way to get help with homework assignments is to post your questions on Piazza. That way, not only our TAs and instructor can help, your peers can too.

If you prefer that your question addresses to only our TAs and the instructor, you can use the private post feature (i.e., check the "Individual Students(s) / Instructors(s)" radio box).

While we welcome everyone to share their experiences in tackling issues and helping each other out, but please do not post your answers, as that may affect the learning experience of your fellow classmates.

For special cases such as failed submissions due to system errors, missing grades, failed file uploads, emergencies that prevent you from submitting, personal issues, you can contact the staff using a private Piazza post.

Course Staff & Office Hours

TAs plan to hold office hours starting week 2, except on Georgia Tech holidays (e.g., thanksgiving, MLK day, spring break). Each office hour session will be run by at least one TA, and is 1 hour long. See GT’s academic calendar for the full list of holidays ( We will spread the office hours across weekdays, and across time of the day. We will announce the office hour times.

We will hold office hours via Slack, where the TA running the office hour will be responsive. We will share information about how to join the appropriate Slack group.

Please note that you are always welcome to ask questions on Piazza. Office hours supplement Piazza, and do not replace it.

Polo's and Mahdi's office hours (click to sign up) are on Tuesdays 4:45 to 5:15 pm Atlanta time (i.e., after class), starting week 2, focusing on lectures and projects. For assignemnt related questions, please use Piazza and TA office hours.

Course Schedule

For all homework and project dates used in this course, their times are 23:59 Anywhere on Earth (11:59 pm AoE), unless stated otherwise. For example, a due date of "January 8" is the same as "January 8, 23:59pm AoE". Convert the times to your local times using a Time Zone Converter.
A number of topics will be covered every week, and we provide pre-recorded lecture videos for each topic. When our class meets — we call it DVA Live — we will use the first 45 minutes to cover highlights of the topics; then the remaining 30 minutes for Q&A to discuss lecture materials, group projects, general data and visual analytics topics (anything you want, except questions about the homework assignments, as those will best be answered through Piazza and TA office hours). Your attendance is required for all live sessions (except for CSE6242Q,R students). Recordings of the live sessions will be available on Canvas.

Lecture slides below will be updated as semseter progresses.
Wk Dates Topics Homework (HW) Project
1 Aug 23-27 * Course Introduction [slides]
* Analytics Building Blocks [slides]
* Data Science Buzzwords [slides]
HW1 out
Fri, Aug 27
2 30-3 * Data Collection [slides]
* SQLite [slides]
* Data Cleaning [slides]
* Class Project Overview [slides]
** Example project: Firebird - Predicting Fire Risks in Atlanta [2min | 20min]
* Code Back-up & Version Control [slides]
3 Sept 6-10

Labor day (Official School Holiday)
* Data Integration
* Data Analytics, Concepts and Tasks [slides]

4 13-17 * Visualization 101 [slides]
* Fixing Common Visualization Issues[slides]
HW1 due
Fri, Sept 17
(Sat, 07:59 ET)

HW2 out
Fri, Sept 17
5 20-24 * Data Visualization for Web (D3) [slides]
  Form project teams by
Fri, Sept 24
6 27-1 * Scalable Computing: Hadoop [slides]
* Scalable Computing: Pig [slides]
* Scalable Computing: Hive [slides]
7 Oct 4-8 * Scalable Computing: Spark [slides]
* Scalable Computing: HBase [slides]
HW2 due
Fri, Oct 8

HW3 out
Fri, Oct 8
8 11-15 * Classification [slides]
* Visualization for Classification [slides]
  Proposal Document due
Fri, Oct 15

Proposal Presentation Slides and Video due
Fri, Oct 15
9 18-22 * Introduction to Clustering [slides]  
10 25-29

* Graph Analytics [slides] [slides]
* Ensemble Method [slides]
* Scaling up Algorithms with Virtual Memory [slides]

HW3 due
Fri, Oct 29

HW4 out
Fri, Oct 29
11 Nov 1-5 Topic Highlights   Progress Report due
Fri, Nov 5
12 8-12 * Time series: basics and linear forecasting [slides]
* Time series: non-linear forecasting, visualization [slides]
13 15-19 * Text Analytics [slides] HW4 due
Fri, Nov 19
(Sat, 06:59 ET)
14 22-26 * Thanksgiving  
15 29-3 * Ethics in ML
* Preparation for final report and poster presentation
Poster Presentation Video due
Fri, Dec 3

Final Report due
Fri, Dec 3
16 Dec 6-10

* Course Review and wrap up
* Peer assessment

  Poster Presentation Video grading starts
Tue, Dec 7

Poster Presentation Video grading due
Fri, Dec 10

This course can be very tough for many!

WARNING! You are expected to quickly learn many things simultaneously, and for some materials you will need to learn them on your own (e.g., Linux commands, for working with MS Azure/Amazon AWS). This can be very intimidating for many students.

The amounts of time students spend on this class greatly vary, based on their backgrounds, and what they may already know. Some former students told us they spent about 40-60 hours on each homework assignment (we have 4 big assignments, and no exams), and some reported much less. For example, for the homework assignment about D3 visualization programming, students who are completely new to javascript, css, and html likely will spend significantly more time than their peers who have already tried them before. Some former students who do not have a computer science background found the homework assignments challenging, would take significant time and effort, but were rewarding, fun, and "do-able."

Students have at least 3 weeks to complete each homework assignment. Some students waited until the last week, and could not finish. It is critical to plan ahead and prepare for the significant time needed.

Almost all homework assignments involve very large amount of programming tasks (which naturally means likely a lot of debugging will be needed, thus can be time consuming). You should be proficient in at least one high-level programming language (e.g., Python, C++, Java), and is efficient with debugging principles and practices. If not, we recommend first taking introductory computing course(s) before taking this course. For exmaple, CSE 6040 for (OMS) Analytics students; CS 1301, CS 1331, CS 1332, CS 1371, etc. for an campus students.

Some programming assignments involve high-level languages or scripting (e.g., Python, Java, SQL etc.). Some assignments involve web programming and D3 (e.g., Javascript, CSS, HTML). For example, an assignment on Hadoop and Spark may require you to learn some basic Java and Scala quickly, which should not be too challenging if you already know another high-level language like Python or C++. It is unlikely that you all know tools/skills needed in the programing tasks, so you are expected to learn many of them on the fly.

Basic linear algebra, probability and statistics knowledge is also expected.

Minimum Computer Requirements

  • 8GB RAM (16GB recommended)
  • 512GB disk (SSD recommended). Some assignments use data files that are more than a few GBs, and some uses virtual machines that can easily take up more than tens of GBs. It is typical for some project teams to use large datasets that are more than a few or tens of GBs.
  • Dual-core Core i5 (8th generation or better recommended)

Accessing Course Materials Outside of US

You may need to use Georgia Tech's VPN. We also recommend checking out some solutions that seem to be working well for OMS students in different countries.


We have 4 big assignments in total (subject to change). Visit this course's Canvas site for the assignment documents. See the schedule table above for deliverable due dates.
  • [10%] HW1: Collecting & visualizing data, SQLite, D3 warmup, OpenRefine
  • [15%] HW2: D3 Graphs and Visualization
  • [15%] HW3: Spark, Docker, DataBricks, AWS and GCP
  • [10%] HW4: Scalable PageRank via Virtual Memory (MMap), Random Forest, Scikit-Learn
We do not release solutions for homework.
Can you release homework early? We understand that some students may prefer that homework assignments be released as soon as possible. Behind the scenes, our course staff work diligently to develop new questions, which means testing new datasets, new instructions, new auto graders, solution code, and more! Unfortunately, this means we likely cannot release assignments well in advance. We will release them as early as possible, hopefully some days before the scheduled release dates on our course schedule. When we release an assignment, we always announce it on Piazza.


See project description. See the schedule table above for deliverable due dates.

Distance Learning Students

A standard 3-day lag applies to all homework and project deliverables. For project presentation, a group that has DL student member (from Q, QSZ, or R sections) can choose to:
  1. [Not applicable in Fall 2020] Present in class without 3-day lag; or
  2. Submit a video presentation with 3-day lag (e.g., screen capture)

Grading Policy

  • There will be 4 homework assignments. Together, they are worth 50% (10%, 15%, 15%, 10%) of the course grade.
  • There will be one course group project worth 50% of the course grade. The project components are:
    1. Proposal (7.5% of course grade)
    2. Proposal presentation (5%) (video recording)
    3. Progress report (5%)
    4. Final poster presentation (7.5%) (video recording)
    5. Final report (25%)
  • You must achieve an overall weighted average of 60% to pass the course.
  • All deliverables will be graded by our TAs, except the project poster presentation, which will be peer-graded.
  • When assigning course grades, I will start with the standard grade thresholds (90, 80, etc.). I may lower (and never raise) the thresholds (i.e., to your benefits). For example, I may use 88 instead of 90.
  • Plagiarism, Collaboration Policy, and Student Honor Code

    • All course participants (myself, teaching assistants, and learners) are expected to know and abide by the Georgia Tech Academic Honor Code.
    • Ethical behavior is extremely important in all facets of life.
    1. Plagiarism is a serious offense. You are responsible for completing your own work. You are not allowed to copy and paste, or paraphrase, or submit materials created or published by others, as if you created the materials. All materials submitted must be your own.
    2. You may discuss high-level ideas with other students at the "whiteboard" level (e.g., how cross validation works, use hashmap instead of array) and review any relevant materials online. However, each student must write up and submit his or her own answers.
    3. You must not put your code on public domain (e.g., public GitHub), because a (future) student could copy your code. That student obviously violates the honor code, and you may also be implicated.
    4. All incidents of suspected dishonesty, plagiarism, or violations of the Georgia Tech Honor Code will be subject to the institute’s Academic Integrity procedures (e.g., reported to and directly handled by the Office of Student Integrity (OSI)). Consequences can be severe, e.g., academic probation or dismissal, grade penalties, a 0 grade for assignments concerned, and prohibition from withdrawing from the class.

    Late Policy and Due Dates

    • All homework and project deliverables are due at the times shown in the Course Schedule. These times are subject to change so please check back often. Convert the times to your local times using a Time Zone Converter.
    • Every homework assignment deliverable and every project deliverable comes with a 48-hour "grace period". You do not need to ask before using this grace period.

      Your deliverable may be submitted (and resubmitted) up to 48 hours after the official deadline without penalty, but Canvas will mark your submission as "late".

      Canvas automatically appends a "version number" to files that you re-submit. You do not need to worry about these version numbers, and there is no need to delete old submissions. We will only grade the most recent submission.
    • Any deliverable submitted after the grace period will get 0 credit. We recommend that you submit your work before the grace period begins.
    • We will not consider late submission of any missing parts of a deliverable. To make sure you have submitted everything, download your submitted files to double check. If your submitting large files, you are responsible for making sure they get uploaded to the system in time. You have 48 hours to verify your submissions!
    • No penalties for medical reasons or emergencies. And should they arise, you must contact the Dean of Students office. Doctor's notes, medical documentation, explanation of emergencies, etc. should be submitted to the Dean’s office. After their office receives the information, they will notify me on your behalf.

    Timing Policy

    • The course videos follow a logical sequence that includes knowledge-building and experience-building (assignments).
    • Assignments should be completed by their due dates, in order for timely peer assessment. Peer assessments should also be completed by their due dates, to give timely feedback.
    • You will have access to the course content for the scheduled duration of the course.

    Attendance Policy

    • This semester, this course runs as remote synchronous, which means this course is delivered completely online and with designated meeting times.
    • We hope to provide you with experiences that are close to in-person learning. We welcome your suggestions on Piazza.

    COVID-19 Policy

    This semester is challenging due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and a growing awareness of inequities.  Please review the most up-todate information relates to specific services and guidelines for courses during this semester at TECH Moving Forward website and in the Academic Restart Frequently Asked Questions.  


    • Netiquette refers to etiquette that is used when communicating on the Internet. Review the Ground Rules for Online Discussions. When you are communicating via email, discussion forums or synchronously (real-time), please use correct spelling, punctuation and grammar consistent with the academic environment and scholarship.
    • We expect all participants (learners, faculty, teaching assistants, staff) to interact respectfully. Learners who do not adhere to this guideline may be removed from the course.

    Dataset Ideas (may need API, or scraping)


    Office of Disability Services

    The Office of Disability Services offers accommodations for students with disabilities. Please contact the office should you need help.

    Support Services

    Graduate Student Resources and academic and personal support services : Office of the Dean of Students, Counseling Center, Health Serivces, Women's Resource Center, LGBTQIA Resource Center, Veteran's Resource Center, Georgia Tech Police.

    Recommended Reading

    All content and course materials can be accessed online. There is no textbook for this course.

    All Georgia Tech students have FREE access to, where you can find a huge number of highly rated and classic books (e.g., the "animal" books) from O'Reilly and Pearson covering a wide variety of computer science topics, including some of those listed below. Just log in with your official GT email address, e.g.,

    Software engineering; become a better programmer and developer

    D3 Visualization; Javascript

    Big Data


    Data science, machine learning, data mining




    Human Computation

    How to manage multiple versions of Python packages?

    To get started, we recommend the excellent article on Which Python package manager should you use?

    If you've decided to go with pyenv, I recommend Managing Multiple Python Versions With pyenv.

    If you use Mac, we recommend to also check out The right and wrong way to set Python 3 as default on a Mac.

    Students in my reserach group said that Poetry seems to be fast replacing conda envs, and may even replace setuptools for pypi packages in the future.


    Review Polo's "warnings" before taking this course.

    Additional formal prerequisites for CSE 6242

    None, but you should have taken courses similar to those listed in the next section, at Georgia Tech or at another school.

    If you are an Analytics (OMS or campus) degree student, you should first take CSE 6040 and do very well in it; if necessary, please also first take CS 1301.

    Additional formal prerequisites for CX 4242

    (Undergraduate Semester level MATH 2605 Minimum Grade of D or
    Undergraduate Semester level MATH 2401 Minimum Grade of D or
    Undergraduate Semester level MATH 24X1 Minimum Grade of D) or
    (Undergraduate Semester level MATH 3215 Minimum Grade of D or
    Undergraduate Semester level MATH 3225 Minimum Grade of D or
    Undergraduate Semester level ECE 3077 Minimum Grade of D or
    Undergraduate Semester level ISYE 2027 Minimum Grade of D)
    (Undergraduate Semester level CS 1371 Minimum Grade of C or
    Undergraduate Semester level CS 1372 Minimum Grade of C or
    Undergraduate Semester level CX 4010 Minimum Grade of C or
    Undergraduate Semester level CX 4240 Minimum Grade of C)

    Course offerings and Registration

    Auditing & Pass/Fail

    Due to the large class size, we are not offering auditing and pass/fail option.

    Previous offerings

    See for all past course offerings.

    Acknowledgment & Related Classes

    We thank Intel's support in curriculum development for the memory mapping module (scaling up algorithms with virtual memory).

    We thank Amazon Educate for providing free cloud credit for Amazon Web Services. We are excited to be am AWS partner university and part of AWS Educate's private beta.

    We thank Microsoft Azure's special grant for providing free cloud credit.

    We thank Tableau for Teaching program's data visualization software.

    Many thanks to my colleagues for sharing their course materials:
    • Prof. John Stasko - Information Visualization - Fall 2012
    • Prof. Jeff Heer - Research Topics in Interactive Data Analysis - Spring 2011
    • Prof. Christos Faloutsos - Multimedia Databases and Data Mining - Fall 2012