Visualization and Collaboration Technologies to Support High-Performance Computing Research

Event Sponsor: 
Department of Computer Science - Dissertation Defense
Start Date: 
Jan 30 2009 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm
RI 405 (Research Institutes)
University of Chicago
Michael Papka
Speaker(s) Title: 

High performance computing has become an increasingly important fixture in science, from aiding in the processing of data collected in experiments, to acting as a virtual laboratory in which experiments are done. Thus, high performance computing is creating a third branch of scientific effort. This trend has driven research and development in a variety of different areas from fundamental hardware design to the software that makes the resources useful. With each iteration of this development cycle computational science has become more and more
complex. This effort addresses this complexity in two key interrelated areas: visualization and collaboration.

Visual representation is the key method to simplify the explanation of a complex environment. Consequently, a large research and development community effort has grown to support scientific visualization. It has also spawned research in advanced displays to provide infrastructure
for exploring data products. These include immersive displays like the CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment or high resolution displays constructed of multiple individual units like the ActiveMural. This work includes influential contributions in all of these areas.

At the same time, complex tasks are often simplified by effort sharing. We see that the teams of individuals working together to do this new form of science have become larger and more distributed. Research efforts in collaboration technology have grown to address this problem. Here we describe the Access Grid and tools built for sharing information as part of this effort. As will be seen in this thesis, collaboration technology both relies on visualization technology and supports it in enabling interactions at a distance.

Throughout this work we have taken a user driven iterative approach using real applications from a variety of scientific domains. This end-to-end testbed approach guarantees realistic experimental circumstances with real world stresses and constraints.

The main contributions of this dissertation are: a) discovery of requirements for the connecting of collaboration and visualization technology to high performance computing; b) development of infrastructure and demonstrations for enabling coupled advanced displays and high performance resources, including the first remote
connection of two spatially immersive virtual environments (CAVE to CAVE); and c) development of infrastructure for efficient pixel transport using commodity video codecs to support collaborative scientific visualization.

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