Despite having shown various ways to overcome D3 cartographic envy, there are always more examples that can cause the green monster to rear it’s ugly head.

Take the Voronoi Arc Map example.

For those in need of a primer, a Voronoi tesslation/diagram is:

a partitioning of a plane into regions based on distance to points in a specific subset of the plane. That set of points (called seeds, sites, or generators) is specified beforehand, and for each seed there is a corresponding region consisting of all points closer to that seed than to any other. Wikipedia

We can overlay a Voronoi tessalation on top of a map in R as well thanks to the deldir package (which has been around since the “S” days!). Let’s get (most of) the package requirements cruft out of the way, first:


Now we’ll [ab]use the data from the Arc Map example:

flights <- read.csv("", stringsAsFactors=FALSE)
airports <- read.csv("", stringsAsFactors=FALSE)

Since the D3 example cheats and only uses the continental US (CONUS) we’ll do the same and we’ll also filter out only those airports mentioned in the flights data and get the total # of incoming/outgoing flights for each airport:

conus <-[!( %in% c("AK", "HI"))]
airports <- filter(airports,
                   state %in% conus,
                   iata %in% union(flights$origin, flights$destination))
orig <- select(count(flights, origin), iata=origin, n1=n)
dest <- select(count(flights, destination), iata=destination, n2=n)
airports <- left_join(airports,
                      select(mutate(left_join(orig, dest),
                             iata, tot)) %>% 

Since we’re going to initially plot polygons in ggplot (and, eventually, in leaflet), we’ll need to work with Spatial objects, so let’s make those airport lat/lon pairs into a SpatialPointsDataFrame:

vor_pts <- SpatialPointsDataFrame(cbind(airports$longitude,
                                  airports, match.ID=TRUE)

The deldir function returns a pretty complex object. Thankfully, the authors of the package realized that one might just want the polygons from the computation and pre-made a function: tile.list for computing/extracting them. Those polygons aren’t, however, closed and we really want to keep the airport data associatd with them, so we need to close the polygons and associate the data. Since we’re likely going to repeat this task, let’s make it a (very badly named) function:

SPointsDF_to_voronoi_SPolysDF <- function(sp) {

  # tile.list extracts the polygon data from the deldir computation
  vor_desc <- tile.list(deldir(sp@coords[,1], sp@coords[,2]))

  lapply(1:(length(vor_desc)), function(i) {

    # tile.list gets us the points for the polygons but we
    # still have to close them, hence the need for the rbind
    tmp <- cbind(vor_desc[[i]]$x, vor_desc[[i]]$y)
    tmp <- rbind(tmp, tmp[1,])

    # now we can make the Polygon(s)
    Polygons(list(Polygon(tmp)), ID=i)

  }) -> vor_polygons

  # hopefully the caller passed in good metadata!
  sp_dat <- sp@data

  # this way the IDs _should_ match up w/the data & voronoi polys
  rownames(sp_dat) <- sapply(slot(SpatialPolygons(vor_polygons),
                             slot, 'ID')



Before we can make the plots, we need to put the Spatial objects into the proper form for ggplot2 (and get the U.S. state map):

vor <- SPointsDF_to_voronoi_SPolysDF(vor_pts)

vor_df <- fortify(vor)

states <- map_data("state")

Now we can have some fun. Let’s try to mimic the D3 example map as closely as possible. We’ll lay down the CONUS map, add a points layer for the the airports, sizing & styling them just like the D3 example. Note that we order the points so that the smallest ones appear on top (so we can still see them).

We’ll then lay down our newly created Voronoi layer. We’ll also use the same projection (Albers) that the D3 examples uses:

gg <- ggplot()
# base map
gg <- gg + geom_map(data=states, map=states,
                    aes(x=long, y=lat, map_id=region),
                    color="white", fill="#cccccc", size=0.5)
# airports layer
gg <- gg + geom_point(data=arrange(airports, desc(tot)),
                      aes(x=longitude, y=latitude, size=sqrt(tot)),
                      shape=21, color="white", fill="steelblue")
# voronoi layer
gg <- gg + geom_map(data=vor_df, map=vor_df,
                    aes(x=long, y=lat, map_id=id),
                    color="#a5a5a5", fill="#FFFFFF00", size=0.25)
gg <- gg + scale_size(range=c(2, 9))
gg <- gg + coord_map("albers", lat0=30, lat1=40)
gg <- gg + theme_map()
gg <- gg + theme(legend.position="none")