In urban planning, sophisticated simulation models are key tools to estimate future population growth for measuring the impact of planning decisions on urban developments and the environment. Simulated population projections usually result in large, macro-scale, multivariate geospatial data sets. Millions of records have to be processed, stored, and visualized to help planners explore and analyze complex population patterns. We introduce a database driven framework for visualizing geospatial multidimensional simulation data based on the output from UrbanSim, a software for the analysis and planning of urban developments. The designed framework is extendable and aims at integrating empirical-stochastic methods and urban simulation models with techniques developed for information visualization and cartography. First, we develop an empirical model for the estimation of residential building types based on demographic household characteristics. The predicted dwelling type information is important for the analysis of future material use, carbon footprint calculations, and for visualizing simultaneously the results of land usage, density, and other significant parameters in 3D space. Our model uses multinomial logistic regression to derive building types at different scales. The estimated regression coefficients are applied to UrbanSim output in order to predict residential building types. The simulation results and the estimated building types are managed in an object-relational geodatabase. From the database, density, building types, and significant demographic variables are visually encoded as scalable, georeferenced 3D geometries and displayed on top of aerial photographs in a Google Earth visual synthesis. The geodatabase can be accessed and the visualization parameters can be chosen through a web-based user interface. The geometries are encoded in KML, Google's markup language, as ready-to-visualize data sets. The goal is to enhance human cognition by displaying abstract representations of multidimensional data sets in a realistic context and thus to support decision making in planning processes.
In this thesis we apply powerful mathematical tools such as interval arithmetic for applications in computational geometry, visualization and computer graphics, leading to robust, general and efficient algorithms. We present a completely novel approach for computing the arrangement of arbitrary implicit planar curves and perform ray casting of arbitrary implicit functions by jointly achieving, for the first time, robustness, efficiency and flexibility. Indeed we are able to render even the most difficult implicits in real-time with guaranteed topology and at high resolution. We use subdivision and interval arithmetic as key-ingredients to guarantee robustness. The presented framework is also well-suited for applications to large and unstructured data sets due to the inherent adaptivity of the techniques that are used. We also approach the topic of tensors by collaborating with mechanical engineers on comparative tensor visualization and provide them with helpful visualization paradigms to interpret the data.
The visualization of numerical fluid flow datasets is essential to the engineering processes that motivate their computational simulation. To address the need for visual representations that convey meaningful relations and enable a deep understanding of flow structures, the discipline of Flow Visualization has produced many methods and schemes that are tailored to a variety of visualization tasks. The ever increasing complexity of modern flow simulations, however, puts an enormous demand on these methods. The study of vortex breakdown, for example, which is a highly transient and inherently three-dimensional flow pattern with substantial impact wherever it appears, has driven current techniques to their limits. In this thesis, we propose several novel visualization methods that significantly advance the state of the art in the visualization of complex flow structures. First, we propose a novel scheme for the construction of stream surfaces from the trajectories of particles embedded in a flow. These surfaces are extremely useful since they naturally exploit coherence between neighboring trajectories and are highly illustrative in nature. We overcome the limitations of existing stream surface algorithms that yield poor results in complex flows, and show how the resulting surfaces can be used a building blocks for advanced flow visualization techniques. Moreover, we present a visualization method that is based on moving section planes that travel through a dataset and sample the flow. By considering the changes to the flow topology on the plane as it moves, we obtain a method of visualizing topological structures in three-dimensional flows that are not accessible by conventional topological methods. On the same algorithmic basis, we construct an algorithm for the tracking of critical points in such flows, thereby enabling the treatment of time-dependent datasets. Last, we address some problems with the recently introduced Lagrangian techniques. While conceptually elegant and generally applicable, they suffer from an enormous computational cost that we significantly use by developing an adaptive approximation algorithm. This allows the application of such methods on very large and complex numerical simulations. Throughout this thesis, we will be concerned with flow visualization aspect of general practical significance but we will particularly emphasize the remarkably challenging visualization of the vortex breakdown phenomenon.