Industrial design has a long history. With the introduction of Computer-Aided Engineering, industrial design was revolutionised. Due to the newly found support, the design workflow changed, and with the introduction of virtual prototyping, new challenges arose. These new engineering problems have triggered
new basic research questions in computer science.
In this dissertation, I present a range of methods which support different components of the virtual design cycle, from modifications of a virtual prototype and optimisation of said prototype, to analysis of simulation results.
Starting with a virtual prototype, I support engineers by supplying intuitive discrete normal vectors which can be used to interactively deform the control mesh of a surface. I provide and compare a variety of different normal definitions which have different strengths and weaknesses. The best choice depends on
the specific model and on an engineer’s priorities. Some methods have higher accuracy, whereas other methods are faster.
I further provide an automatic means of surface optimisation in the form of minimising total curvature. This minimisation reduces surface bending, and therefore, it reduces material expenses. The best results can be obtained for analytic surfaces, however, the technique can also be applied to real-world examples.
Moreover, I provide engineers with a curvature-aware technique to optimise mesh quality. This helps to avoid degenerated triangles which can cause numerical issues. It can be applied to any component of the virtual design cycle: as a direct modification of the virtual prototype (depending on the surface defini-
tion), during optimisation, or dynamically during simulation.
Finally, I have developed two different particle relaxation techniques that both support two components of the virtual design cycle. The first component for which they can be used is discretisation. To run computer simulations on a model, it has to be discretised. Particle relaxation uses an initial sampling,
and it improves it with the goal of uniform distances or curvature-awareness. The second component for which they can be used is the analysis of simulation results. Flow visualisation is a powerful tool in supporting the analysis of flow fields through the insertion of particles into the flow, and through tracing their movements. The particle seeding is usually uniform, e.g. for an integral surface, one could seed on a square. Integral surfaces undergo strong deformations, and they can have highly varying curvature. Particle relaxation redistributes the seeds on the surface depending on surface properties like local deformation or curvature.
Today’s pervasive availability of computing devices enabled with wireless communication and location- or inertial sensing capabilities is unprecedented. The number of smartphones sold worldwide are still growing and increasing numbers of sensor enabled accessories are available which a user can wear in the shoe or at the wrist for fitness tracking, or just temporarily puts on to measure vital signs. Despite this availability of computing and sensing hardware the merit of application seems rather limited regarding the full potential of information inherent to such senor deployments. Most applications build upon a vertical design which encloses a narrowly defined sensor setup and algorithms specifically tailored to suit the application’s purpose. Successful technologies, however, such as the OSI model, which serves as base for internet communication, have used a horizontal design that allows high level communication protocols to be run independently from the actual lower-level protocols and physical medium access. This thesis contributes to a more horizontal design of human activity recognition systems at two stages. First, it introduces an integrated toolchain to facilitate the entire process of building activity recognition systems and to foster sharing and reusing of individual components. At a second stage, a novel method for automatic integration of new sensors to increase a system’s performance is presented and discussed in detail.
The integrated toolchain is built around an efficient toolbox of parametrizable components for interfacing sensor hardware, synchronization and arrangement of data streams, filtering and extraction of features, classification of feature vectors, and interfacing output devices and applications. The toolbox emerged as open-source project through several research projects and is actively used by research groups. Furthermore, the toolchain supports recording, monitoring, annotation, and sharing of large multi-modal data sets for activity recognition through a set of integrated software tools and a web-enabled database.
The method for automatically integrating a new sensor into an existing system is, at its core, a variation of well-established principles of semi-supervised learning: (1) unsupervised clustering to discover structure in data, (2) assumption that cluster membership is correlated with class membership, and (3) obtaining at a small number of labeled data points for each cluster, from which the cluster labels are inferred. In most semi-supervised approaches, however, the labels are the ground truth provided by the user. By contrast, the approach presented in this thesis uses a classifier trained on an N-dimensional feature space (old classifier) to provide labels for a few points in an (N+1)-dimensional feature space which are used to generate a new, (N+1)-dimensional classifier. The different factors that make a distribution difficult to handle are discussed, a detailed description of heuristics designed to mitigate the influences of such factors is provided, and a detailed evaluation on a set of over 3000 sensor combinations from 3 multi-user experiments that have been used by a variety of previous studies of different activity recognition methods is presented.
Since their invention in the 1980s, behaviour-based systems have become very popular among roboticists. Their component-based nature facilitates the distributed implementation of systems, fosters reuse, and allows for early testing and integration. However, the distributed approach necessitates the interconnection of many components into a network in order to realise complex functionalities. This network is crucial to the correct operation of the robotic system. There are few sound design techniques for behaviour networks, especially if the systems shall realise task sequences. Therefore, the quality of the resulting behaviour-based systems is often highly dependant on the experience of their developers.
This dissertation presents a novel integrated concept for the design and verification of behaviour-based systems that realise task sequences. Part of this concept is a technique for encoding task sequences in behaviour networks. Furthermore, the concept provides guidance to developers of such networks. Based on a thorough analysis of methods for defining sequences, Moore machines have been selected for representing complex tasks. With the help of the structured workflow proposed in this work and the developed accompanying tool support, Moore machines defining task sequences can be transferred automatically into corresponding behaviour networks, resulting in less work for the developer and a lower risk of failure.
Due to the common integration of automatically and manually created behaviour-based components, a formal analysis of the final behaviour network is reasonable. For this purpose, the dissertation at hand presents two verification techniques and justifies the selection of model checking. A novel concept for applying model checking to behaviour-based systems is proposed according to which behaviour networks are modelled as synchronised automata. Based on such automata, properties of behaviour networks that realise task sequences can be verified or falsified. Extensive graphical tool support has been developed in order to assist the developer during the verification process.
Several examples are provided in order to illustrate the soundness of the presented design and verification techniques. The applicability of the integrated overall concept to real-world tasks is demonstrated using the control system of an autonomous bucket excavator. It can be shown that the proposed design concept is suitable for developing complex sophisticated behaviour networks and that the presented verification technique allows for verifying real-world behaviour-based systems.
This dissertation focuses on the visualization of urban microclimate data sets,
which describe the atmospheric impact of individual urban features. The application
and adaptation of visualization and analysis concepts to enhance the
insight into observational data sets used this specialized area are explored, motivated
through application problems encountered during active involvement
in urban microclimate research at the Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.
Besides two smaller projects dealing with the analysis of thermographs
recorded with a hand-held device and visualization techniques used for building
performance simulation results, the main focus of the work described in
this document is the development of a prototypic tool for the visualization
and analysis of mobile transect measurements. This observation technique involves
a sensor platform mounted to a vehicle, which is then used to traverse
a heterogeneous neighborhood to investigate the relationships between urban
form and microclimate. The resulting data sets are among the most complex
modes of in-situ observations due to their spatio-temporal dependence, their
multivariate nature, but also due to the various error sources associated with
moving platform observations.
The prototype enables urban climate researchers to preprocess their data,
to explore a single transect in detail, and to aggregate observations from multiple
traverses conducted over diverse routes for a visual delineation of climatic
microenvironments. Extending traditional analysis methods, the suggested visualization
tool provides techniques to relate the measured attributes to each
other and to the surrounding land cover structure. In addition to that, an
improved method for sensor lag correction is described, which shows the potential
to increase the spatial resolution of measurements conducted with slow
air temperature sensors.
In summary, the interdisciplinary approach followed in this thesis triggers
contributions to geospatial visualization and visual analytics, as well as to urban
climatology. The solutions developed in the course of this dissertation are
meant to support domain experts in their research tasks, providing means to
gain a qualitative overview over their specific data sets and to detect patterns,
which can then be further analyzed using domain-specific tools and methods.
In 2003, a dictionary data structure called jumplist has been introduced by Brönnimann, Cazals and Durand. It is based on a circularly closed (singly) linked list, but additional jump-pointers are added to provide shortcuts to parts further ahead in the list.
The original jump-and-walk data structure by Brönnimann, Cazals and Durand only introduces one jump-pointer per node. In this thesis, I add one more-jump pointer to each node and present algorithms for generation, insertion and search for the resulting data structure.
Furthermore, I try to evaluate the effects on the expected search costs and the complexity of the generation and insertion.
It turns out that the two-jump-pointer variant of the jumplist has a slightly better prefactor (1.2 vs. 2) in the leading term of the expected internal path length than the original version and despite the more complex structure of the two-jump-pointer variant compared to the regular jumplist, the complexity of generation and insertion remains linearithmic.
Information Visualization (InfoVis) and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) have strong ties with each other. Visualization supports the human cognitive system by providing interactive and meaningful images of the underlying data. On the other side, the HCI domain cares about the usability of the designed visualization from the human perspectives. Thus, designing a visualization system requires considering many factors in order to achieve the desired functionality and the system usability. Achieving these goals will help these people in understanding the inside behavior of complex data sets in less time.
Graphs are widely used data structures to represent the relations between the data elements in complex applications. Due to the diversity of this data type, graphs have been applied in numerous information visualization applications (e.g., state transition diagrams, social networks, etc.). Therefore, many graph layout algorithms have been proposed in the literature to help in visualizing this rich data type. Some of these algorithms are used to visualize large graphs, while others handle the medium sized graphs. Regardless of the graph size, the resulting layout should be understandable from the users’ perspective and at the same time it should fulfill a list of aesthetic criteria to increase the representation readability. Respecting these two principles leads to produce a resulting graph visualization that helps the users in understanding and exploring the complex behavior of critical systems.
In this thesis, we utilize the graph visualization techniques in modeling the structural and behavioral aspects of embedded systems. Furthermore, we focus on evaluating the resulting representations from the users’ perspectives.
The core contribution of this thesis is a framework, called ESSAVis (Embedded Systems Safety Aspect Visualizer). This framework visualizes not only some of the safety aspects (e.g. CFT models) of embedded systems, but also helps the engineers and experts in analyzing the system safety critical situations. For this, the framework provides a 2Dplus3D environment in which the 2D represents the graph representation of the abstract data about the safety aspects of the underlying embedded system while the 3D represents the underlying system 3D model. Both views are integrated smoothly together in the 3D world fashion. In order to check the effectiveness and feasibility of the framework and its sub-components, we conducted many studies with real end users as well as with general users. Results of the main study that targeted the overall ESSAVis framework show high acceptance ratio and higher accuracy with better performance using the provided visual support of the framework.
The ESSAVis framework has been designed to be compatible with different 3D technologies. This enabled us to use the 3D stereoscopic depth of such technologies to encode nodes attributes in node-link diagrams. In this regard, we conducted an evaluation study to measure the usability of the stereoscopic depth cue approach, called the stereoscopic highlighting technique, against other selected visual cues (i.e., color, shape, and sizes). Based on the results, the thesis proposes the Reflection Layer extension to the stereoscopic highlighting technique, which was also evaluated from the users’ perspectives. Additionally, we present a new technique, called ExpanD (Expand in Depth), that utilizes the depth cue to show the structural relations between different levels of details in node-link diagrams. Results of this part opens a promising direction of the research in which visualization designers can get benefits from the richness of the 3D technologies in visualizing abstract data in the information visualization domain.
Finally, this thesis proposes the application of the ESSAVis frame- work as a visual tool in the educational training process of engineers for understanding the complex concepts. In this regard, we conducted an evaluation study with computer engineering students in which we used the visual representations produced by ESSAVis to teach the principle of the fault detection and the failure scenarios in embedded systems. Our work opens the directions to investigate many challenges about the design of visualization for educational purposes.
Large displays become more and more popular, due to dropping prices. Their size and high resolution leverages collaboration and they are capable of dis- playing even large datasets in one view. This becomes even more interesting as the number of big data applications increases. The increased screen size and other properties of large displays pose new challenges to the Human- Computer-Interaction with these screens. This includes issues such as limited scalability to the number of users, diversity of input devices in general, leading to increased learning efforts for users, and more.
Using smart phones and tablets as interaction devices for large displays can solve many of these issues. Since they are almost ubiquitous today, users can bring their own device. This approach scales well with the number of users. These mobile devices are easy and intuitive to use and allow for new interaction metaphors, as they feature a wide array of input and output capabilities, such as touch screens, cameras, accelerometers, microphones, speakers, Near-Field Communication, WiFi, etc.
This thesis will present a concept to solve the issues posed by large displays. We will show proofs-of-concept, with specialized approaches showing the via- bility of the concept. A generalized, eyes-free technique using smart phones or tablets to interact with any kind of large display, regardless of hardware or software then overcomes the limitations of the specialized approaches. This is implemented in a large display application that is designed to run under a multitude of environments, including both 2D and 3D display setups. A special visualization method is used to combine 2D and 3D data in a single visualization.
Additionally the thesis will present several approaches to solve common is- sues with large display interaction, such as target sizes on large display getting too small, expensive tracking hardware, and eyes-free interaction through vir- tual buttons. These methods provide alternatives and context for the main contribution.
Maintaining complex software systems tends to be a costly activity where software engineers spend a significant amount of time trying to understand the system's structure and behavior. As early as the 1980s, operation and maintenance costs were already twice as expensive as the initial development costs incurred. Since then these costs have steadily increased. The focus of this thesis is to reduce these costs through novel interactive exploratory visualization concepts and to apply these modern techniques in the context of services offered by software quality analysis.
Costs associated with the understanding of software are governed by specific features of the system in terms of different domains, including re-engineering, maintenance, and evolution. These features are reflected in software measurements or inner qualities such as extensibility, reusability, modifiability, testability, compatability, or adatability. The presence or absence of these qualities determines how easily a software system can conform or be customized to meet new requirements. Consequently, the need arises to monitor and evaluate the qualitative state of a software system in terms of these qualities. Using metrics-based analysis, production costs and quality defects of the software can be recorded objectively and analyzed.
In practice, there exist a number of free and commercial tools that analyze the inner quality of a software system through the use of software metrics. However, most of these tools focus on software data mining and metrics (computational analysis) and only a few support visual analytical reasoning. Typically, computational analysis tools generate data and software visualization tools facilitate the exploration and explanation of this data through static or interactive visual representations. Tools that combine these two approaches focus only on well-known metrics and lack the ability to examine user defined metrics. Further, they are often confined to simple visualization methods and metaphors, including charts, histograms, scatter plots, and node-link diagrams.
The goal of this thesis is to develop methodologies that combine computational analysis methods together with sophisticated visualization methods and metaphors through an interactive visual analysis approach. This approach promotes an iterative knowledge discovery process through multiple views of the data where analysts select features of interest in one of the views and inspect data items of the select subset in all of the views. On the one hand, we introduce a novel approach for the visual analysis of software measurement data that captures complete facts of the system, employs a flow-based visual paradigm for the specification of software measurement queries, and presents measurement results through integrated software visualizations. This approach facilitates the on-demand computation of desired features and supports interactive knowledge discovery - the analyst can gain more insight into the data through activities that involve: building a mental model of the system; exploring expected and unexpected features and relations; and generating, verifying, or rejecting hypothesis with visual tools. On the other hand, we have also extended existing tools with additional views of the data for the presentation and interactive exploration of system artifacts and their inter-relations.
Contributions of this thesis have been integrated into two different prototype tools. First evaluations of these tools show that they can indeed improve the understanding of large and complex software systems.
In the digital era we live in, users can access an abundance of digital resources in their daily life. These digital resources can be located on the user's devices, in traditional repositories such as intranets or digital libraries, but also in open environments such as the World Wide Web.
To be able to efficiently work with this abundance of information, users need support to get access to the resources that are relevant to them. Access to digital resources can be supported in various ways. Whether we talk about technologies for browsing, searching, filtering, ranking, or recommending resources: what they all have in common is that they depend on the available information (i.e., resources and metadata). The accessibility of digital resources that meet a user's information need, and the existence and quality of metadata is crucial for the success of any information system.
This work focuses on how social media technologies can support the access to digital resources. In contrast to closed and controlled environments where only selected users have the rights to contribute digital resources and metadata, and where this contribution involves a social process of formal agreement of the relevant stakeholders, potentially any user can easily create and provide information in social media environments. This usually leads to a larger variety of resources and metadata, and allows for dynamics that would otherwise hardly be possible.
Most information systems still mainly rely on traditional top-down approaches where only selected stakeholders can contribute information. The main idea of this thesis is an approach that allows for introducing the characteristics of social media environments in such traditional contexts. The requirements for such an approach are being examined, as well as the benefits and potentials it can provide.
The ALOE infrastructure was developed according to the identified requirements and realises a Social Resource and Metadata Hub. Case studies and evaluation results are provided to show the impact of the approach on the user's behaviours and the creation of digital resources and metadata, and to justify the presented approach.
In a networked system, the communication system is indispensable but often the weakest link w.r.t. performance and reliability. This, particularly, holds for wireless communication systems, where the error- and interference-prone medium and the character of network topologies implicate special challenges. However, there are many scenarios of wireless networks, in which a certain quality-of-service has to be provided despite these conditions. In this regard, distributed real-time systems, whose realization by wireless multi-hop networks becomes increasingly popular, are a particular challenge. For such systems, it is of crucial importance that communication protocols are deterministic and come with the required amount of efficiency and predictability, while additionally considering scarce hardware resources that are a major limiting factor of wireless sensor nodes. This, in turn, does not only place demands on the behavior of a protocol but also on its implementation, which has to comply with timing and resource constraints.
The first part of this thesis presents a deterministic protocol for wireless multi-hop networks with time-critical behavior. The protocol is referred to as Arbitrating and Cooperative Transfer Protocol (ACTP), and is an instance of a binary countdown protocol. It enables the reliable transfer of bit sequences of adjustable length and deterministically resolves contest among nodes based on a flexible priority assignment, with constant delays, and within configurable arbitration radii. The protocol's key requirement is the collision-resistant encoding of bits, which is achieved by the incorporation of black bursts. Besides revisiting black bursts and proposing measures to optimize their detection, robustness, and implementation on wireless sensor nodes, the first part of this thesis presents the mode of operation and time behavior of ACTP. In addition, possible applications of ACTP are illustrated, presenting solutions to well-known problems of distributed systems like leader election and data dissemination. Furthermore, results of experimental evaluations with customary wireless transceivers are outlined to provide evidence of the protocol's implementability and benefits.
In the second part of this thesis, the focus is shifted from concrete deterministic protocols to their model-driven development with the Specification and Description Language (SDL). Though SDL is well-established in the domain of telecommunication and distributed systems, the predictability of its implementations is often insufficient as previous projects have shown. To increase this predictability and to improve SDL's applicability to time-critical systems, real-time tasks, an approved concept in the design of real-time systems, are transferred to SDL and extended to cover node-spanning system tasks. In this regard, a priority-based execution and suspension model is introduced in SDL, which enables task-specific priority assignments in the SDL specification that are orthogonal to the static structure of SDL systems and control transition execution orders on design as well as on implementation level. Both the formal incorporation of real-time tasks into SDL and their implementation in a novel scheduling strategy are discussed in this context. By means of evaluations on wireless sensor nodes, evidence is provided that these extensions reduce worst-case execution times substantially, and improve the predictability of SDL implementations and the language's applicability to real-time systems.