The Tax Map is a graph of the United States Tax Code, represented as a network. In the network each node represents a section of the tax code, while each edge represents a reference from one section to another. (More explanation can be found in the Colophon)
As anyone who has ever attempted to do their taxes will tell you, the tax code is a mass of rules and exceptions that seem to require an advanced degree in n-space topology to digest. I wondered how that complexity would bear out if one were to look at the mere structure of the tax code, stripped naked of its rules and semantics. Thus was born The Tax Map.
Nature is full of objects built of fractal geometry, the world of objects built by man with regular shape and pattern. Even chaos - white noise - can be said to have a pattern, that of no pattern whatsoever. We find none of these in the structure of the tax code. It is not purely chaotic, but nor does it have a discernable pattern. When first looking at it, I was reminded of nothing more than the images of spider webs woven by spiders on drugs. It has the base structures of a man-made object, but some of the fractal geometry of a natural object, which, in a way, makes sense. After all, it is made by man, but evolved through various sessions of Congress.
I provide three views of The Tax Map. The first is the starkest, having no structure imposed by the semantics of the tax code. It presentation is determined only by the connectedness of the sections of the code itself. The second and third have some external structure infused into them, based on location within code. For these, the sections of the code are clustered together by chapter. These chapters are highlighted in the third image for the benefit of the viewer. To learn about how the images were created and the meaning of the symbols used in them, go to the Colophon.