Static and moving circles

May 29, 2015

(This article was first published on Last Resort Software, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

After the previous post on the packcircles package for R someone suggested it would be useful to be able to fix the position of selected circles. As a first attempt, I’ve added an optional weights argument to the circleLayout function. Weights can be in the range 0-1 inclusive, where a weight of 0 prevents a circle from moving, while a weight of 1 allows full movement. The updated code is at GitHub.

Here’s an example where the largest of a set of initially overlapping circles is fixed in place:

And here is the code for the example:


# Generate some random overlapping circles
ncircles <- 200
limits <- c(-50, 50)
inset <- diff(limits) / 3
rmax <- 20

xyr <- data.frame(
x = runif(ncircles, min(limits) + inset, max(limits) - inset),
y = runif(ncircles, min(limits) + inset, max(limits) - inset),
r = rbeta(ncircles, 1, 10) * rmax)

# Index of the largest circle <- which(xyr$r == max(xyr$r))

## Generate plot data for the `before` layout
dat.before <- circlePlotData(xyr)

# Add a column to the plot data for the 'before' circles
# to indicate whether a circle is static of free to move
dat.before$state <- ifelse(dat.before$id ==, "static", "free")

# Run the layout algorithm with a weights vector to fix the position
# of the largest circle
wts <- rep(1.0, nrow(xyr))
wts[ ] <- 0.0

res <- circleLayout(xyr, limits, limits, maxiter = 1000, weights=wts)

# A plot function to colour circles based on the state column
doPlot <- function(dat, title)
ggplot(dat) +
geom_polygon(aes(x, y, group=id, fill=state), colour="brown1") +
scale_fill_manual(values=c("NA", "brown4")) +
coord_equal(xlim=limits, ylim=limits) +
theme_bw() +
legend.position="none") +

g.before <- doPlot(dat.before, "before")

# Generate a plot for the 'after' circles
dat.after <- circlePlotData(res$layout)
dat.after$state <- ifelse(dat.after$id ==, "static", "free")

g.after <- doPlot(dat.after, "after")

grid.arrange(g.before, g.after, nrow=1)

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