Fluorender, An Interactive Tool for Confocal Microscopy Data Visualization and Analysis
Y. Wan. Note: Ph.D. Thesis, School of Computing, University of Utah, June, 2013.
Confocal microscopy has become a popular imaging technique in biology research in recent years. It is often used to study three-dimensional (3D) structures of biological samples. Confocal data are commonly multi-channel, with each channel resulting from a different fluorescent staining. This technique also results finely detailed structures in 3D, such as neuron fibers. Despite the plethora of volume rendering techniques that have been available for many years, there is a demand from biologists for a flexible tool that allows interactive visualization and analysis of multi-channel confocal data. Together with biologists, we have designed and developed FluoRender. It incorporates volume rendering techniques such as a two-dimensional (2D) transfer function and multi-channel intermixing. Rendering results can be enhanced through tone-mappings and overlays. To facilitate analyses of confocal data, FluoRender provides interactive operations for extracting complex structures. Furthermore, we developed the Synthetic Brainbow technique, which takes advantage of the asynchronous behavior in Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) framebuffer loops and generates random colorizations for different structures in single-channel confocal data. The results from our Synthetic Brainbows, when applied to a sequence of developing cells, can then be used for tracking the movements of these cells. Finally, we present an application of FluoRender in the workflow of constructing anatomical atlases.
Keywords: confocal microscopy, visualization, software
|Diffusion imaging quality control via entropy of principal direction distribution,
M. Farzinfar, I. Oguz, R.G. Smith, A.R. Verde, C. Dietrich, A. Gupta, M.L. Escolar, J. Piven, S. Pujol, C. Vachet, S. Gouttard, G. Gerig, S. Dager, R.C. McKinstry, S. Paterson, A.C. Evans, M.A. Styner. In NeuroImage, Vol. 82, pp. 1--12. 2013.
Diffusion MR imaging has received increasing attention in the neuroimaging community, as it yields new insights into the microstructural organization of white matter that are not available with conventional MRI techniques. While the technology has enormous potential, diffusion MRI suffers from a unique and complex set of image quality problems, limiting the sensitivity of studies and reducing the accuracy of findings. Furthermore, the acquisition time for diffusion MRI is longer than conventional MRI due to the need for multiple acquisitions to obtain directionally encoded Diffusion Weighted Images (DWI). This leads to increased motion artifacts, reduced signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and increased proneness to a wide variety of artifacts, including eddy-current and motion artifacts, “venetian blind” artifacts, as well as slice-wise and gradient-wise inconsistencies. Such artifacts mandate stringent Quality Control (QC) schemes in the processing of diffusion MRI data. Most existing QC procedures are conducted in the DWI domain and/or on a voxel level, but our own experiments show that these methods often do not fully detect and eliminate certain types of artifacts, often only visible when investigating groups of DWI's or a derived diffusion model, such as the most-employed diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Here, we propose a novel regional QC measure in the DTI domain that employs the entropy of the regional distribution of the principal directions (PD). The PD entropy quantifies the scattering and spread of the principal diffusion directions and is invariant to the patient's position in the scanner. High entropy value indicates that the PDs are distributed relatively uniformly, while low entropy value indicates the presence of clusters in the PD distribution. The novel QC measure is intended to complement the existing set of QC procedures by detecting and correcting residual artifacts. Such residual artifacts cause directional bias in the measured PD and here called dominant direction artifacts. Experiments show that our automatic method can reliably detect and potentially correct such artifacts, especially the ones caused by the vibrations of the scanner table during the scan. The results further indicate the usefulness of this method for general quality assessment in DTI studies.
Keywords: Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging, Diffusion tensor imaging, Quality assessment, Entropy
The Helmholtz-Hodge Decomposition - A Survey
H. Bhatia, G. Norgard, V. Pascucci, P.-T. Bremer. In IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG), Vol. 19, No. 8, Note: Selected as Spotlight paper for August 2013 issue, pp. 1386--1404. 2013.
The Helmholtz-Hodge Decomposition (HHD) describes the decomposition of a flow field into its divergence-free and curl-free components. Many researchers in various communities like weather modeling, oceanology, geophysics, and computer graphics are interested in understanding the properties of flow representing physical phenomena such as incompressibility and vorticity. The HHD has proven to be an important tool in the analysis of fluids, making it one of the fundamental theorems in fluid dynamics. The recent advances in the area of flow analysis have led to the application of the HHD in a number of research communities such as flow visualization, topological analysis, imaging, and robotics. However, because the initial body of work, primarily in the physics communities, research on the topic has become fragmented with different communities working largely in isolation often repeating and sometimes contradicting each others results.
|Visualizing Robustness of Critical Points for 2D Time-Varying Vector Fields,
Bei Wang, P. Rosen, P. Skraba, H. Bhatia, V. Pascucci. In Computer Graphics Forum, Vol. 32, No. 3, Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 221--230. jun, 2013.
Analyzing critical points and their temporal evolutions plays a crucial role in understanding the behavior of vector fields. A key challenge is to quantify the stability of critical points: more stable points may represent more important phenomena or vice versa. The topological notion of robustness is a tool which allows us to quantify rigorously the stability of each critical point. Intuitively, the robustness of a critical point is the minimum amount of perturbation necessary to cancel it within a local neighborhood, measured under an appropriate metric. In this paper, we introduce a new analysis and visualization framework which enables interactive exploration of robustness of critical points for both stationary and time-varying 2D vector fields. This framework allows the end-users, for the first time, to investigate how the stability of a critical point evolves over time. We show that this depends heavily on the global properties of the vector field and that structural changes can correspond to interesting behavior. We demonstrate the practicality of our theories and techniques on several datasets involving combustion and oceanic eddy simulations and obtain some key insights regarding their stable and unstable features.
Discovering and Visualizing Patterns in EEG Data
E.W. Anderson, C. Chong, G.A. Preston, C.T. Silva. In Proceedings of the 2013 IEEE Pacific Visualization Symposium (PacificVis), pp. 105--112. 2013.
Brain activity data is often collected through the use of electroencephalography (EEG). In this data acquisition modality, the electric fields generated by neurons are measured at the scalp. Although this technology is capable of measuring activity from a group of neurons, recent efforts provide evidence that these small neuronal collections communicate with other, distant assemblies in the brain's cortex. These collaborative neural assemblies are often found by examining the EEG record to find shared activity patterns.
In this paper, we present a system that focuses on extracting and visualizing potential neural activity patterns directly from EEG data. Using our system, neuroscientists may investigate the spectral dynamics of signals generated by individual electrodes or groups of sensors. Additionally, users may interactively generate queries which are processed to reveal which areas of the brain may exhibit common activation patterns across time and frequency. The utility of this system is highlighted in a case study in which it is used to analyze EEG data collected during a working memory experiment.
Visualization for understanding uncertainty in the simulation of myocardial ischemia
P. Rosen, B. Burton, K. Potter, C.R. Johnson. In Proceedings of the 2013 Workshop on Visualization in Medicine and Life Sciences, 2013.
We have created the Myocardial Uncertainty Viewer (muView) tool for exploring data stemming from the forward simulation of cardiac ischemia. The simulation uses a collection of conductivity values to understand how ischemic regions effect the undamaged anisotropic heart tissue. The data resulting from the simulation is multivalued and volumetric and thus, for every data point, we have a collection of samples describing cardiac electrical properties. muView combines a suite of visual analysis methods to explore the area surrounding the ischemic zone and identify how perturbations of variables changes the propagation of their effects.
Visualization of Uncertainty without a Mean
K. Potter, S. Gerber, E.W. Anderson. In IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, Visualization Viewpoints, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 75--79. 2013.
As dataset size and complexity steadily increase, uncertainty is becoming an important data aspect. So, today's visualizations need to incorporate indications of uncertainty. However, characterizing uncertainty for visualization isn't always straightforward. Entropy, in the information-theoretic sense, can be a measure for uncertainty in categorical datasets. The authors discuss the mathematical formulation, interpretation, and use of entropy in visualizations. This research aims to demonstrate entropy as a metric and expand the vocabulary of uncertainty measures for visualization.
Rule-based Visual Mappings - with a Case Study on Poetry Visualization
A. Abdul-Rahman, J. Lein, K. Coles, E. Maguire, M.D. Meyer, M. Wynne, C.R. Johnson, A. Trefethen, M. Chen. In Proceedings of the 2013 Eurographics Conference on Visualization (EuroVis), Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 381--390. June, 2013.
In this paper, we present a user-centered design study on poetry visualization. We develop a rule-based solution to address the conflicting needs for maintaining the flexibility of visualizing a large set of poetic variables and for reducing the tedium and cognitive load in interacting with the visual mapping control panel. We adopt Munzner's nested design model to maintain high-level interactions with the end users in a closed loop. In addition, we examine three design options for alleviating the difficulty in visualizing poems latitudinally. We present several example uses of poetry visualization in scholarly research on poetry.
Synergistic Challenges in Data-Intensive Science and Exascale Computing
J. Chen, A. Choudhary, S. Feldman, B. Hendrickson, C.R. Johnson, R. Mount, V. Sarkar, V. White, D. Williams. Note: Summary Report of the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) Subcommittee, March, 2013.
The ASCAC Subcommittee on Synergistic Challenges in Data-Intensive Science and Exascale Computing has reviewed current practice and future plans in multiple science domains in the context of the challenges facing both Big Data and the Exascale Computing. challenges. The review drew from public presentations, workshop reports and expert testimony. Data-intensive research activities are increasing in all domains of science, and exascale computing is a key enabler of these activities. We briefly summarize below the key findings and recommendations from this report from the perspective of identifying investments that are most likely to positively impact both data-intensive science goals and exascale computing goals.
Verifying Volume Rendering Using Discretization Error Analysis
SCI Technical Report, T. Etiene, D. Jonsson, T. Ropinski, C. Scheidegger, J. Comba, L. Gustavo Nonato, R.M. Kirby, A. Ynnerman, C.T. Silva. No. UUSCI-2013-001, SCI Institute, University of Utah, 2013.
We propose an approach for verification of volume rendering correctness based on an analysis of the volume rendering integral, the basis for most DVR algorithms. With respect to the most common discretization of this continuous model, we make assumptions about the impact of parameter changes on the rendered results and derive convergence curves describing the expected behavior. Specifically, we progressively refine the number of samples along the ray, the grid size, and the pixel size, and evaluate how the errors observed during refinement compare against the expected approximation errors. We will derive the theoretical foundations of our verification approach, explain how to realize it in practice and discuss its limitations as well as the identified errors.
Keywords: discretization errors, volume rendering, verifiable visualization
S. Gerber, O. Reubel, P.-T. Bremer, V. Pascucci, R.T. Whitaker. In Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 193--214. 2013.
This paper introduces a novel partition-based regression approach that incorporates topological information. Partition-based regression typically introduce a quality-of-fit-driven decomposition of the domain. The emphasis in this work is on a topologically meaningful segmentation. Thus, the proposed regression approach is based on a segmentation induced by a discrete approximation of the Morse-Smale complex. This yields a segmentation with partitions corresponding to regions of the function with a single minimum and maximum that are often well approximated by a linear model. This approach yields regression models that are amenable to interpretation and have good predictive capacity. Typically, regression estimates are quantified by their geometrical accuracy. For the proposed regression, an important aspect is the quality of the segmentation itself. Thus, this paper introduces a new criterion that measures the topological accuracy of the estimate. The topological accuracy provides a complementary measure to the classical geometrical error measures and is very sensitive to over-fitting. The Morse-Smale regression is compared to state-of-the-art approaches in terms of geometry and topology and yields comparable or improved fits in many cases. Finally, a detailed study on climate-simulation data demonstrates the application of the Morse-Smale regression. Supplementary materials are available online and contain an implementation of the proposed approach in the R package msr, an analysis and simulations on the stability of the Morse-Smale complex approximation and additional tables for the climate-simulation study.
Comments on the “Meshless Helmholtz-Hodge decomposition”
H. Bhatia, G. Norgard, V. Pascucci, P.-T. Bremer. In IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 527--528. 2013.
The Helmholtz-Hodge decomposition (HHD) is one of the fundamental theorems of fluids describing the decomposition of a flow field into its divergence-free, curl-free and harmonic components. Solving for an HDD is intimately connected to the choice of boundary conditions which determine the uniqueness and orthogonality of the decomposition. This article points out that one of the boundary conditions used in a recent paper \"Meshless Helmholtz-Hodge decomposition\"  is, in general, invalid and provides an analytical example demonstrating the problem. We hope that this clarification on the theory will foster further research in this area and prevent undue problems in applying and extending the original approach.
Visualizing Invariant Manifolds in Area-Preserving Maps
X. Tricoche, C. Garth, A. Sanderson, K. Joy. In Topological Methods in Data Analysis and Visualization II: Theory, Algorithms, and Applications, Edited by R. Peikert, H. Hauser, H. Carr, R. Fuchs, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 109--124. 2012.
Area-preserving maps arise in the study of conservative dynamical systems describing a wide variety of physical phenomena, from the rotation of planets to the dynamics of a fluid. The visual inspection of these maps reveals a remarkable topological picture in which invariant manifolds form the fractal geometric scaffold of both quasi-periodic and chaotic regions. We discuss in this paper the visualization of such maps built upon these invariant manifolds. This approach is in stark contrast with the discrete Poincare plots that are typically used for the visual inspection of maps. We propose to that end several modified definitions of the finite-time Lyapunov exponents that we apply to reveal the underlying structure of the dynamics. We examine the impact of various parameters and the numerical aspects that pertain to the implementation of this method. We apply our technique to a standard analytical example and to a numerical simulation of magnetic confinement in a fusion reactor. In both cases our simple method is able to reveal salient structures across spatial scales and to yield expressive images across application domains.
enRoute: Dynamic Path Extraction from Biological Pathway Maps for In-Depth Experimental Data Analysis
C Partl, A Lex, M Streit, D Kalkofen, K Kashofer, D Schmalstieg. In Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Biological Data Visualization (BioVis '12), IEEE, pp. 107--114. 2012.
Pathway maps are an important source of information when analyzing functional implications of experimental data on biological processes. However, associating large quantities of data with nodes on a pathway map and allowing in depth-analysis at the same time is a challenging task. While a wide variety of approaches for doing so exist, they either do not scale beyond a few experiments or fail to represent the pathway appropriately. To remedy this, we introduce enRoute, a new approach for interactively exploring experimental data along paths that are dynamically extracted from pathways. By showing an extracted path side-by-side with experimental data, enRoute can present large amounts of data for every pathway node. It can visualize hundreds of samples, dozens of experimental conditions, and even multiple datasets capturing different aspects of a node at the same time. Another important property of this approach is its conceptual compatibility with arbitrary forms of pathways. Most notably, enRoute works well with pathways that are manually created, as they are available in large, public pathway databases. We demonstrate enRoute with pathways from the well-established KEGG database and expression as well as copy number datasets from humans and mice with more than 1,000 experiments. We validate enRoute using case studies with domain experts, who used enRoute to explore data for glioblastoma multiforme in humans and a model of steatohepatitis in mice.
StratomeX: Visual Analysis of Large-Scale Heterogeneous Genomics Data for Cancer Subtype Characterization
A. Lex, M. Streit, H. Schulz, C. Partl, D. Schmalstieg, P.. Park, N. Gehlenborg. In Computer Graphics Forum (EuroVis '12), Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 1175--1184. 2012.
dentification and characterization of cancer subtypes are important areas of research that are based on the integrated analysis of multiple heterogeneous genomics datasets. Since there are no tools supporting this process, much of this work is done using ad-hoc scripts and static plots, which is inefficient and limits visual exploration of the data. To address this, we have developed StratomeX, an integrative visualization tool that allows investigators to explore the relationships of candidate subtypes across multiple genomic data types such as gene expression, DNA methylation, or copy number data. StratomeX represents datasets as columns and subtypes as bricks in these columns. Ribbons between the columns connect bricks to show subtype relationships across datasets. Drill-down features enable detailed exploration. StratomeX provides insights into the functional and clinical implications of candidate subtypes by employing small multiples, which allow investigators to assess the effect of subtypes on molecular pathways or outcomes such as patient survival. As the configuration of viewing parameters in such a multi-dataset, multi-view scenario is complex, we propose a meta visualization and configuration interface for dataset dependencies and data-view relationships. StratomeX is developed in close collaboration with domain experts. We describe case studies that illustrate how investigators used the tool to explore subtypes in large datasets and demonstrate how they efficiently replicated findings from the literature and gained new insights into the data.
Visualizing Uncertainty in Biological Expression Data
C. Holzhüter, A. Lex, D. Schmalstieg, H. Schulz, H. Schumann, M. Streit. In Proceedings of the SPIE Conference on Visualization and Data Analysis (VDA '12), Vol. 8294, pp. 82940O-82940O-11. 2012.
Expression analysis of ~omics data using microarrays has become a standard procedure in the life sciences. However, microarrays are subject to technical limitations and errors, which render the data gathered likely to be uncertain. While a number of approaches exist to target this uncertainty statistically, it is hardly ever even shown when the data is visualized using for example clustered heatmaps. Yet, this is highly useful when trying not to omit data that is "good enough" for an analysis, which otherwise would be discarded as too unreliable by established conservative thresholds. Our approach addresses this shortcoming by first identifying the margin above the error threshold of uncertain, yet possibly still useful data. It then displays this uncertain data in the context of the valid data by enhancing a clustered heatmap. We employ different visual representations for the different kinds of uncertainty involved. Finally, it lets the user interactively adjust the thresholds, giving visual feedback in the heatmap representation, so that an informed choice on which thresholds to use can be made instead of applying the usual rule-of-thumb cut-offs. We exemplify the usefulness of our concept by giving details for a concrete use case from our partners at the Medical University of Graz, thereby demonstrating our implementation of the general approach.
Model-Driven Design for the Visual Analysis of Heterogeneous Data
M. Streit, H. Schulz, A. Lex, D. Schmalstieg, H. Schumann. In IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Vol. 18, No. 6, IEEE, pp. 998--1010. 2012.
As heterogeneous data from different sources are being increasingly linked, it becomes difficult for users to understand how the data are connected, to identify what means are suitable to analyze a given data set, or to find out how to proceed for a given analysis task. We target this challenge with a new model-driven design process that effectively codesigns aspects of data, view, analytics, and tasks. We achieve this by using the workflow of the analysis task as a trajectory through data, interactive views, and analytical processes. The benefits for the analysis session go well beyond the pure selection of appropriate data sets and range from providing orientation or even guidance along a preferred analysis path to a potential overall speedup, allowing data to be fetched ahead of time. We illustrate the design process for a biomedical use case that aims at determining a treatment plan for cancer patients from the visual analysis of a large, heterogeneous clinical data pool. As an example for how to apply the comprehensive design approach, we present Stack'n'flip, a sample implementation which tightly integrates visualizations of the actual data with a map of available data sets, views, and tasks, thus capturing and communicating the analytical workflow through the required data sets.
A Practical Workflow for Making Anatomical Atlases in Biological Research
Y. Wan, A.K. Lewis, M. Colasanto, M. van Langeveld, G. Kardon, C.D. Hansen. In IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, Vol. 32, No. 5, pp. 70--80. 2012.
An anatomical atlas provides a detailed map for medical and biological studies of anatomy. These atlases are important for understanding normal anatomy and the development and function of structures, and for determining the etiology of congenital abnormalities. Unfortunately, for biologists, generating such atlases is difficult, especially ones with the informative content and aesthetic quality that characterize human anatomy atlases. Building such atlases requires knowledge of the species being studied and experience with an art form that can faithfully record and present this knowledge, both of which require extensive training in considerably different fields. (For some background on anatomical atlases, see the related sidebar.)
With the latest innovations in data acquisition and computing techniques, atlas building has changed dramatically. We can now create atlases from 3D images of biological specimens, allowing for high-quality, faithful representations. Labeling of structures using fluorescently tagged antibodies, confocal 3D scanning of these labeled structures, volume rendering, segmentation, and surface reconstruction techniques all promise solutions to the problem of building atlases.
However, biology researchers still ask, \"Is there a set of tools we can use or a practical workflow we can follow so that we can easily build models from our biological data?\" To help answer this question, computer scientists have developed many algorithms, tools, and program codes. Unfortunately, most of these researchers have tackled only one aspect of the problem or provided solutions to special cases. So, the general question of how to build anatomical atlases remains unanswered.
For a satisfactory answer, biologists need a practical workflow they can easily adapt for different applications. In addition, reliable tools that can fit into the workflow must be readily available. Finally, examples using the workflow and tools to build anatomical atlases would demonstrate these resources' utility for biological research.
To build a mouse limb atlas for studying the development of the limb musculoskeletal system, University of Utah biologists, artists, and computer scientists have designed a generalized workflow for generating anatomical atlases. We adapted it from a CG artist's workflow of building 3D models for animated films and video games. The tools we used to build the atlas were mostly commercial, industry-standard software packages. Having been developed, tested, and employed for industrial use for decades, CG artists' workflow and tools, with certain adaptations, are the most suitable for making high-quality anatomical atlases, especially under strict budgetary and time limits. Biological researchers have been largely unaware of these resources. By describing our experiences in this project, we hope to show biologists how to use these resources to make anatomically accurate, high-quality, and useful anatomical atlases.
The ViSUS Visualization Framework
V. Pascucci, G. Scorzelli, B. Summa, P.-T. Bremer, A. Gyulassy, C. Christensen, S. Philip, S. Kumar. In High Performance Visualization: Enabling Extreme-Scale Scientific Insight, Chapman and Hall/CRC Computational Science, Ch. 19, Edited by E. Wes Bethel and Hank Childs (LBNL) and Charles Hansen (UofU), Chapman and Hall/CRC, 2012.
The ViSUS software framework was designed with the primary philosophy that the visualization of massive data need not be tied to specialized hardware or infrastructure. In other words, a visualization environment for large data can be designed to be lightweight, highly scalable and run on a variety of plat- forms or hardware. Moreover, if designed generally such an infrastructure can have a wide variety of applications, all from the same code base. Figure 19.1 details example applications and the major components of the ViSUS infrastructure. The components can be grouped into three major categories. First, a lightweight and fast out-of-core data management framework using multi- resolution space filling curves. This allows the organization of information in an order that exploits the cache hierarchies of any modern data storage architectures. Second, a data flow framework that allows data to be processed during movement. Processing massive datasets in their entirety would be a long and expensive operation which hinders interactive exploration. By designing new algorithms to fit within this framework, data can be processed as it moves. Third, a portable visualization layer which was designed to scale from mobile devices to powerwall displays with same code base. In this chapter we will describe the ViSUS infrastructure, as well as give practical examples of its use in real world applications.
Design Study Methodology: Reflections from the Trenches and the Stacks
M. Sedlmair, M.D. Meyer, T. Munzner. In IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Vol. 18, No. 12, Note: Honorable Mention for Best Paper Award., pp. 2431--2440. 2012.
Design studies are an increasingly popular form of problem-driven visualization research, yet there is little guidance available about how to do them effectively. In this paper we reflect on our combined experience of conducting twenty-one design studies, as well as reading and reviewing many more, and on an extensive literature review of other field work methods and methodologies. Based on this foundation we provide definitions, propose a methodological framework, and provide practical guidance for conducting design studies. We define a design study as a project in which visualization researchers analyze a specific real-world problem faced by domain experts, design a visualization system that supports solving this problem, validate the design, and reflect about lessons learned in order to refine visualization design guidelines. We characterize two axes—a task clarity axis from fuzzy to crisp and an information location axis from the domain expert’s head to the computer—and use these axes to reason about design study contributions, their suitability, and uniqueness from other approaches. The proposed methodological framework consists of 9 stages: learn, winnow, cast, discover, design, implement, deploy, reflect, and write. For each stage we provide practical guidance and outline potential pitfalls. We also conducted an extensive literature survey of related methodological approaches that involve a significant amount of qualitative field work, and compare design study methodology to that of ethnography, grounded theory, and action research.