Network Visualization: Chinese Railway Transport from 1992 to 2011


This is part of the preliminary data analysis of a course project. Data is collected from the National Statistical Beureau of China and in the unit of thousand tons. In the beginning, I start with a comprehensive table called data, where for each province there’s a matrix of 20 by 31, i.e. transport to each province w.r.t. different years. Therefore, it’s convenient to extract the actual transient matrix for each year by using the method groupby of Pandas.

Import Packages

The most important one is networkx in this project.

import warnings
import matplotlib
import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
import networkx as nx
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import matplotlib.patches as mpatches
from matplotlib.collections import LineCollection
from matplotlib.colors import colorConverter, Colormap


plt.rcParams[''] = 'serif''seaborn-paper')
plt.rcParams['axes.grid'] = False
plt.rcParams['figure.figsize'] = [10, 5]

Plotting Functions

There’re two functions, draw_networkx_edges_with_arrows for directed edges drawing, plot_network for whole networks drawing.

def draw_networkx_edges_with_arrows(G, pos, width, edge_color, alpha=0.5, ax=None):
    ec = colorConverter.to_rgba(edge_color, alpha)
    if ax is None: ax = plt.gca()
    edge_pos = np.asarray([(pos[e[0]], pos[e[1]]) for e in G.edges()])
    edge_collection = LineCollection(edge_pos, colors=ec, linewidths=width, antialiaseds=(1,), 
                                     linestyle='solid', transOffset = ax.transData)
    if cb.is_numlike(alpha): edge_collection.set_alpha(alpha)
    arrow_collection = None
    arrow_colors = ec
    p = .8  # length of edge apart from the arrow part
    for (src, dst), lwi in zip(edge_pos, width):
        x1, y1 = src
        x2, y2 = dst
        dx = x2-x1   # x offset
        dy = y2-y1   # y offset
        d = np.sqrt(float(dx**2 + dy**2))  # length of edge
        if d == 0: continue
        if dx == 0:  # vertical edge
            xa = x2
            ya = dy*p+y1
        if dy == 0:  # horizontal edge
            ya = y2
            xa = dx*p+x1
            theta = np.arctan2(dy, dx)
            xa = p*d*np.cos(theta)+x1
            ya = p*d*np.sin(theta)+y1
        dx, dy = x2-xa, y2-ya
        patch = mpatches.Arrow(xa, ya, dx, dy, width=lwi/55, alpha=lwi*alpha/5, color=ec, transform=ax.transData)

    minx = np.amin(np.ravel(edge_pos[:, :, 0]))
    maxx = np.amax(np.ravel(edge_pos[:, :, 0]))
    miny = np.amin(np.ravel(edge_pos[:, :, 1]))
    maxy = np.amax(np.ravel(edge_pos[:, :, 1]))

    w = maxx-minx
    h = maxy-miny
    padx, pady = 0.05*w, 0.05*h
    corners = (minx-padx, miny-pady), (maxx+padx, maxy+pady)
    return edge_collection

def plot_network(net, year, save=False):
    u = net.source
    v =
    w = net.flow
    G = nx.DiGraph()
    for ui, vi, wi in zip(u, v, w): G.add_edges_from([(ui, vi)], weight=wi)
    pos = nx.circular_layout(G)
    edge_labels = dict([((u, v,), d['weight']) for u, v, d in G.edges(data=True)])
    weights = [G[u][v]['weight'] for u, v in G.edges()]
    weights = np.array(list(map(lambda x: (x - min(weights)) / 
                       (max(weights) - min(weights)), weights)))  # normalize
    weights = weights*10
    fig = plt.figure(figsize=(10,10))
    nx.draw_networkx_edge_labels(G, pos, edge_labels=edge_labels, font_family='serif', font_size=4, 
                                 font_color='grey', bbox={'alpha':.0, 'lw':0})
    nx.draw_networkx_nodes(G, pos, nodelist=G.nodes(), node_color='r', node_size=100)
    draw_networkx_edges_with_arrows(G, pos, width=weights, edge_color='#5cce40')
    nx.draw_networkx_labels(G, pos, font_color='white', font_family='serif', font_size=6)
    plt.title(r'Railway Transport ($10^3$ ton), {}'.format(year), color='white')
    if save: plt.savefig('./plots/net{}.png'.format(year), facecolor=fig.get_facecolor())

Data Preparation and Plotting

As I mentioned in the beginning, here the transient matrices are extracted by groupby. For further usage, we save then by specifying the parameter save in plot_network to be True.

rail = data.ix[:,6:-1].fillna(0).astype(int).groupby(data.Year)
province = data.Province.unique()

for temp in list(rail):
    year = temp[0]
    net = temp[1]
    net.index = province
    net = pd.concat([net.ix[:,i] for i in net.columns], axis=0)
    net = pd.concat([pd.Series(net.index), pd.Series(np.repeat(province, 31)), pd.Series(net.values)], 
                    axis=1, ignore_index=True)
    net.columns = ['source', 'target', 'flow']
    mask = net.source ==
    net = net[~mask]
    plot_network(net, year, True)

GIF Generation

Key package here is imageio. I’ve set the limit for maximum pixel to 1e10 in case there’s any overflow due to large figures in the above steps.

import imageio
from PIL import Image

image_list = [f'net{i}.png' for i in range(1992, 2012)]
gif_name = 'net.gif'
frames = [imageio.imread(image_name) for image_name in image_list]
imageio.mimsave(gif_name, frames, 'GIF', duration=.5)

Well, I have to say it looks gorgeous.