The London Tube map is a lie. By which, of course, I mean, it's not geographically accurate. Beck's map design shows the distances between each stop as roughly the same, given that map readers only need to know the sequence and direction of a tube link, rather than how far away it is. The other problem is that the centre of London has densely packed stations, while the outer stations are sparse, so it makes sense to expand the centre and contract the outer arms.

So, I was thinking, rather than do this by hand, could you do an algorithm to tubify any series of linked points, eg cities in England, or bus-stops in Nottingham etc. All you'd need to do, is treat each link as a spring which pushes or pulls on the points until they are the correct distance apart.

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There are still some things I'd change slightly. The current algorithm just uses springs to normalise distances, alternatively...

Note that there is no perfect solution to this problem. The best algorithm I could do to turn your data into a nice, clean, ordered map, with no funny cross-overs or twistedness, would probably involve using all four methods to each push the stations around until a compromise solution arises.

To make this a more useful tool I could:

(Full screen version)

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