A graph-based interface for visual analytics of 3D streamlines and pathlines

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Visual exploration of large and complex 3D steady and unsteady flow fields is critically important in many areas of science and engineering. In this paper, we introduce FlowGraph, a novel compound graph representation that organizes field line clusters and spatiotemporal regions hierarchically for occlusion-free and controllable visual exploration. It works with any seeding strategy as long as the domain is well covered and important flow features are captured. By transforming a flow field to a graph representation, we enable observation and exploration of the relationships among field line clusters, spatiotemporal regions and their interconnection in the transformed space. FlowGraph not only provides a visual mapping that abstracts field line clusters and spatiotemporal regions in various levels of detail, but also serves as a navigation tool that guides flow field exploration and understanding. Through brushing and linking in conjunction with the standard field line view, we demonstrate the effectiveness of FlowGraph with several visual exploration and comparison tasks that cannot be well accomplished using the field line view alone. We also perform an empirical expert evaluation to confirm the usefulness of this graph-based technique. © 1995-2012 IEEE.

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IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics