Home > Uncategorized > Force-Directed Graph Layout with Barriers and Shared Channels

Force-Directed Graph Layout with Barriers and Shared Channels

A graph is a collection of nodes, and edges joining the nodes together. Automatically drawing them cleanly is an interesting problem. Some force-based graph layout algorithms view the edges between nodes as springs, and simulate the forces acting on each node in order to move the nodes into a good position. Connected nodes will pull towards each other until the edges are of an ideal length. We can implement such a layout algorithm in CHP, with a process per node.

To implement the algorithm, the nodes need to be able to find out the current positions of their neighbours (i.e. the nodes they are connected to) and update their own position accordingly. One approach would be to have a channel pair per edge, to enable sending of position information in both directions, as in this graph of three nodes:

I’m going to take an alternative approach of having one output channel per node, on which the node can send its position. The other end (i.e. the reading end) of these position channels will be shared, and these ends will be passed around to all the nodes that connect to the node with the output end. We can also give all the reading ends to a display process. So our wired up graph now looks like this:

A shared channel is represented by a small hollow circle. Each has one writer (the three nodes), and several readers (the connected nodes and the display process). Each iteration, our nodes will offer to send out their current position (as many times as they are asked for it) while also fetching the position of all their neighbours. Then they will all calculate a new position based on their neighbours and go again. One problem with this common discover-then-act design is that if you do not clearly separate the discovery of the neighbours’ positions and the updating of the positions, you can get nodes updating based on a mix of old positions (which is what you want) and the new updated positions — a race hazard. To prevent this, we divide each simulation step into two phases (discover and act) using a phased barrier.

A phased barrier is a synchronisation primitive. It allows processes to enroll on the barrier, to resign from the barrier, and to synchronise; processes only successfully synchronise on a barrier when all currently-enrolled processes synchronise. Each synchronisation, the phase of the barrier is moved on (and typically cycles around).

We will begin with some import statements, and declaring a NodeInfo type to hold the positions of nodes. We will also include a quick Num and Fractional instance for our NodeInfo that performs plus, minus, etc element-wise (NodeInfo 1 6 * NodeInfo 3 4 == NodeInfo 3 24):

import Control.Concurrent.CHP
import Control.Monad
import Control.Monad.Trans
import Graphics.Rendering.OpenGL
import Graphics.UI.GLUT hiding (alt)

data NodeInfo = NodeInfo GLfloat GLfloat deriving (Show, Eq)

instance Num NodeInfo where ...
instance Fractional NodeInfo where ...

Then we will declare our phase data type, and a helper function to read from a list of shared channels in parallel:

data Phase = Discover | Act deriving (Eq, Show, Bounded, Ord, Enum)

readAll :: [Shared Chanin a] -> CHP [a]
readAll = runParMapM (flip claim readChannel)

Next, we will define our node process. The main body of the node process first begins the discover phase. It then acts as a sender and receiver in parallel: the receiver reads in the positions of all its neighbours, while the sender continually offers to send out its position. It finishes both of these once the phase changes. To facilitate this, we must enroll on the barrier again, and use one barrier end in the sender and one in the receiver. (If we did not enroll a second time, and tried to use the same single barrier end twice in parallel, this would be a mis-use of the library.) So here is most of the node process:

node :: NodeInfo -> [Shared Chanin NodeInfo] -> Chanout NodeInfo
     -> Enrolled PhasedBarrier Phase -> CHP ()
node start neighbourChans out bar = node' start
    node' cur
      = do Discover <- syncBarrier bar
           (_, neighbourPos) <- furtherEnroll bar $ \bar2 ->
              giveOutPosUntilBar cur <||> do pos <- readAll neighbourChans
                                             Act <- syncBarrier bar2
                                             return pos
           node' (updatePos neighbourPos cur)
    giveOutPosUntilBar cur = (writeChannel out cur >> giveOutPosUntilBar cur)
                               <-> do Act <- syncBarrier bar
                                      return ()

The sender is the giveOutPosUntilBar process, and the receiver is on the right-hand side of the parallel. By making explicit the phase that we expect to begin with each barrier synchronisation, we both make our code clear (you can see which part is in the discover phase, and which part is in the act phase) and also effectively assert correctness; if the pattern-match fails, your code will produce an error.

Updating the position of the node based on its neighbours is all pure code. This is not a very sophisticated algorithm, but it will suffice for the purposes of illustration:

    updatePos poss cur = cur + (0.05 * average
      [let v = p - cur in v - ideal * normalise v | p <- poss])
        ideal = 0.3
        normalise (NodeInfo x y) = NodeInfo (x / mag) (y / mag)
            mag = sqrt (x*x + y*y)
        average xs = sum xs / fromIntegral (length xs)

The draw process is mainly irrelevant OpenGL logic (adapted from my boids example), but the interesting part is that it must act in the discover phase, partly because that’s the only time that the nodes will send their position, and partly because it’s actually the drawing that drives the frame-rate (a pull-based architecture).

drawProcess :: [Shared Chanin NodeInfo] -> Enrolled PhasedBarrier Phase -> CHP ()
drawProcess input bar
 = do displayIO <- embedCHP_ $ do syncAndWaitForPhase Discover bar
                                  xs <- readAll input
                                  liftIO $ do startFrame
                                              mapM_ draw xs
                                              mapM_ (drawEdge xs) edges
      liftIO (do setup
                 displayCallback $= glRunAs2D displayIO
                 let addTimer = addTimerCallback 500 timer
                     timer = addTimer >> postRedisplay Nothing
    setup = do initialWindowSize $= Size 500 500
               initialDisplayMode $= [DoubleBuffered]
               createWindow "CHP Graph"

    startFrame = do clearColor $= Color4 0 0 0 0
                    clear [ColorBuffer, DepthBuffer]

    endFrame = do flush

glRunAs2D :: IO () -> IO ()
glRunAs2D draw = do
  (matrixMode $= Modelview 0) >> loadIdentity
  (matrixMode $= Projection) >> loadIdentity
  ortho 0 1 0 1 (-1000) 1000
  preservingMatrix draw

draw :: NodeInfo -> IO ()
draw (NodeInfo x y) = renderPrimitive Polygon $ sequence_
  [ vertex $ Vertex2 (x + 0.05 * cos t) (y + 0.05 * sin t)
  | t <- map ((pi/10)*) [0..19]]

drawEdge :: [NodeInfo] -> (Int, Int) -> IO ()
drawEdge nodes (s, e) = renderPrimitive Lines $
  vertex (Vertex2 x1 y1) >> vertex (Vertex2 x2 y2)
    (NodeInfo x1 y1, NodeInfo x2 y2) = (nodes !! s, nodes !! e)

Finally, we must initialise the nodes and wire up the simulation. For our barrier, we will use the enrollAll_ function that takes a barrier-creation function, a list of processes that take an enrolled barrier as a parameter, and runs them all in parallel with their own enrolled barrier ends (discarding the output). Crucially, enrollAll does the enrolling before any of the processes have begun. If you run your processes in parallel and get them to enroll themselves, you will create a race hazard in your program: one process might enroll and start synchronising by itself before the other processes have started executing. This is almost certainly not what you want. So here is the code:

startNodes :: [NodeInfo]
startNodes = [NodeInfo 0 0, NodeInfo 0 1, NodeInfo 1 0, NodeInfo 1 1]

edges :: [(Int, Int)]
edges = [(0,1), (1,2), (2,0), (1, 3)]

main :: IO ()
main = runCHP_ $
       do outChans <- replicateM numNodes oneToAnyChannel
          enrollAll_ (newPhasedBarrier Act)
           (drawProcess (readers outChans) :
            [ let edgesOut = filter ((== i) . fst) edges
                  edgesIn = filter ((== i) . snd) edges
                  connectedNodes = map fst edgesIn ++ map snd edgesOut
              in node n (readers (map (outChans !!) connectedNodes)) (writer c)
            | (n, c, i) <- zip3 startNodes outChans [0..]])
    numNodes = length startNodes

The list comprehension uses the edges list to pick out all the right channels for each node (i.e. it translates the connectivity expressed in the edges list into the channel topology). The code in this post forms a complete program. It is not completely effective as I have not added repulsion among non-connected nodes (an exercise for the reader perhaps), but here is a quick screenshot of the result:

My intention with this example was to illustrate the use of shared channels, and particularly barriers. The pattern shown here, of dividing simulations into phases, is one of their most common uses but they can be used elsewhere, sometimes in place of channels; from a more abstract perspective, channels in CHP offer synchronisation and communication, whereas barriers offer purely synchronisation. A one-to-one channel carrying the unit type is semantically equivalent to a two-party barrier with no phase information. The channel has the benefit of not needing explicit enrollment, but the disadvantage of being asymmetric in its use. For example, picking up and putting down forks in the dining philosophers example can be implemented using either two-party barriers or channels carrying the unit type.

Note: As often with my recent posts, writing them revealed that I lacked certain useful helper functions, so you will need the new CHP 1.7.0 (which also includes other changes I will discuss in future) for the above code.

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  1. Felipe Lessa
    November 24, 2009 at 4:47 pm | #1

    What about a nice video? :D

    • November 24, 2009 at 6:50 pm | #2

      This version is fairly unexciting (the nodes just move from the corners into position), but I will try to put together a slightly better, more complicated version that’s worth recording.

      • Felipe Lessa
        November 26, 2009 at 10:14 am | #3

        Is it because of the algorithm or the example? Does the algorithm converge this fast?

      • November 26, 2009 at 11:16 am | #4

        Felipe: mainly the example. I have another post lined up with a video that shows the algorithm converging over time, which I’ll post later today.

  2. Dave
    November 25, 2009 at 4:53 pm | #5

    There’s recording an animation, and there’s off-screen anti-aliased rendering of HD video frame by frame for later playback. In general I want this for everything I’m planning graphically, so “powerpoint” slide shows can be replaced gradually by editing video. It isn’t that hard (the second time) to do in OpenGL.

  3. Ivan Miljenovic
    November 25, 2009 at 11:26 pm | #6

    Are you going to develop this into a full-blown graph layout tool for Haskell? I’m more than willing to be put out of a job writing the graphviz bindings! :p

  4. November 26, 2009 at 2:19 pm | #7


    Interesting article. I still have to take the time to do more than just skim the code. But just FYI, here is a (small?) performance optimization.

    Make your node data strict:

    data NodeInfo = NodeInfo !GLfloat !GLfloat deriving (Show, Eq)

  1. November 26, 2009 at 1:16 pm | #1
  2. December 6, 2009 at 12:38 pm | #2
  3. May 11, 2010 at 2:29 pm | #3

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