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Proceedings Paper

Flow Web: a graph based user interface for 3D flow field exploration
Author(s): Lijie Xu; Han-Wei Shen
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Paper Abstract

While there have been intensive efforts in developing better 3D flow visualization techniques, little attention has been paid to the design of better user interfaces and more effective data exploration work flow. In this paper, we propose a novel graph-based user interface called Flow Web to enable more systematic explorations of 3D flow data. The Flow Web is a node-link graph that is constructed to highlight the essential flow structures where a node represents a region in the field and a link connects two nodes if there exist particles traveling between the regions. The direction of an edge implies the flow path, and the weight of an edge indicates the number of particles traveling through the connected nodes. Hierarchical flow webs are created by splitting or merging nodes and edges to allow for easy understanding of the underlying flow structures. To draw the Flow Web, we adopt force based graph drawing algorithms to minimize edge crossings, and use a hierarchical layout to facilitate the study of flow patterns step by step. The Flow Web also supports user queries to the properties of nodes and links. Examples of the queries for node properties include the degrees, complexity, and some associated physical attributes such as velocity magnitude. Queries for edges include weights, flow path lengths, existence of circles and so on. It is also possible to combine multiple queries using operators such as and , or, not. The FlowWeb supports several types of user interactions. For instance, the user can select nodes from the subgraph returned by a query and inspect the nodes with more details at different levels of detail. There are multiple advantages of using the graph-based user interface. One is that the user can identify regions of interest much more easily since, unlike inspecting 3D regions, there is very little occlusion. It is also much more convenient for the user to query statistical information about the nodes and links at different levels of detail. With the Flow Web, it becomes easier for the user to log and track the progress of data exploration which is crucial for exploring large data sets. We demonstrate how to construct and draw the Flow Web effectively, and how to query the Flow Web to retrieve useful information from the data. Case studies are provided to demonstrate the exploration process.

Paper Details

Date Published: 18 January 2010
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 7530, Visualization and Data Analysis 2010, 75300F (18 January 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.838659
Show Author Affiliations
Lijie Xu, The Ohio State Univ. (United States)
Han-Wei Shen, The Ohio State Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7530:
Visualization and Data Analysis 2010
Jinah Park; Ming C. Hao; Pak Chung Wong; Chaomei Chen, Editor(s)

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