Visualization in Scientific Computing

Authors: McCormick, B.H., DeFanti, T.A., Brown, M.D.

Publication: Computer Graphics, vol 21, no 6, ACM SIGGRAPH

In October 1986, the Division of Advanced Scientific Computing (DASC) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored a meeting of a newly-organized Panel on Graphics, Image Processing and Workstations to provide input to DASC on establishing and ordering priorities for acquiring graphics and image processing hardware and software at research institutions doing advanced scientific computing, with particular attention to NSF-funded supercomputer centers. Supercomputer centers had been requesting funds to provide graphics hardware and software to scientific users but, in point of fact, existing tools were not adequate to meeting their needs.

Computer Graphics and image processing are within computer science; the application of computers to the discipline sciences is called computational science. Applying graphics and imaging techniques to computational science is a while new area of endeavor, which Panel members termed Visualization in Scientific Computing.

The Panel maintained that visualization in scientific computing is a major emerging computer-based technology warranting significantly enhanced federal support. From the Panel’s first meeting came two principal recommendations. It was suggested that the NSF hold a workshop with other government agencies in order to generate a formal summary of the field, and that the NSF establish a new initiative on Visualization in Scientific Computer (ViSC).

The Workshop on Visualization in Scientific Computing, held February 9-10, 1987 in Washington, D.C., and co-chaired by Panel members Bruce H. McCormick and Thomas A. DeFanti, brought together researchers from academia, industry and government. Computer Graphics and computer vision experts analyzed emerging technologies, and federal agency representatives presented their needs and interests. Scientists showed examples of their computer-generated imagery using film, videotape and slides. A presentation on Japanese visualization research, a tutorial on state-of-the-art computer graphics animation research, and a overview of commercially available hardware and software rounded out the agenda.

This report presents the findings and recommendations of the Panel for a new initiative in Visualization in Scientific Computing. Much of the impact of visualization, as applied to scientific and engineering research, cannot be conveyed in printed matter alone - so this document is accompanies by a videotape that illustrates pioneering efforts in visualization today. See SIGGRAPH Video Review Issue 28/29, Visualization in Scientific Computing.

Date: November 1, 1987

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