The art of visualization centers around helping people explore or explain data through software systems that provide static or interactive visual representations. Visualization designers exploit the high bandwidth channel of human visual perception to allow people to comprehend information orders of magnitude more quickly than they could through reading raw numbers or text. Visualization is useful for detecting patterns, assessing situations, sharing data, and steering simulation. Understanding, and, ultimately, knowledge cannot be delivered directly from computation. Visualization is the tool through which computation presents a face to an end user and, by so doing, is allows the user to derive knowledge from data.
During the past 20 years the world has experienced an “information big bang”, an exponential explosion of data. New information produced in the two years since 2003 exceeds the information contained in all previously created documents. Of all this new information produced since 2003, more than 90% takes digital form, vastly exceeding information produced in paper and film forms. But raw information is by itself of questionable value. We are continually challenged to make sense of the enormous growth and onslaught of information and use it in effective and efficient ways.
Among the greatest scientific challenges of the 21st century, will be to effectively understand and make use of the vast amount of information being produced. Our primary problem is no longer acquiring sufficient information, but rather making use of it and sharing it in a collaborative fashion. If we are to use information to make discoveries in science, engineering, medicine, art, and the humanities, we must create new theories, techniques, and methods for its management and analysis. By its very nature, visualization addresses the challenges created by such excess – too many data points, too many variables, too many time steps, and too many potential explanations. Thus, as we work to tame the accelerating information explosion and employ it to advance scientific, biomedical, and engineering research, visualization will be among our most important tools. This course aims at introducing to scientist, engineers, as well as practitioners in medicine the basic fundamentals of data visualization. During the course, we will focus on the following topics:
Basic knowledge of computer graphics and parallel programming is an asset.
There is no specific textbook for this course. We will provide notes and scientific papers.
Several downloadable documents from Kitware that describe VTK, Paraview, and VolView will be used as part of teaching the use of a visualization toolkit. These include the Paraview user's guide, and the VolView user's guide. A description on how to get Paraview, VolView, and VTK can be found here.
The students will be evaluated based on three criteria: