Designed especially for neurobiologists, FluoRender is an interactive tool for multi-channel fluorescence microscopy data visualization and analysis.
Deep brain stimulation
BrainStimulator is a set of networks that are used in SCIRun to perform simulations of brain stimulation such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and magnetic transcranial stimulation (TMS).
Developing software tools for science has always been a central vision of the SCI Institute.

SCI Publications


T. M. Athawale, D. Maljovec. L. Yan, C. R. Johnson, V. Pascucci, B. Wang. “Uncertainty Visualization of 2D Morse Complex Ensembles Using Statistical Summary Maps,” In IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 1955-1966. April, 2022.
ISSN: 1077-2626
DOI: 10.1109/TVCG.2020.3022359


Morse complexes are gradient-based topological descriptors with close connections to Morse theory. They are widely applicable in scientific visualization as they serve as important abstractions for gaining insights into the topology of scalar fields. Data uncertainty inherent to scalar fields due to randomness in their acquisition and processing, however, limits our understanding of Morse complexes as structural abstractions. We, therefore, explore uncertainty visualization of an ensemble of 2D Morse complexes that arises from scalar fields coupled with data uncertainty. We propose several statistical summary maps as new entities for quantifying structural variations and visualizing positional uncertainties of Morse complexes in ensembles. Specifically, we introduce three types of statistical summary maps – the probabilistic map , the significance map , and the survival map – to characterize the uncertain behaviors of gradient flows. We demonstrate the utility of our proposed approach using wind, flow, and ocean eddy simulation datasets.

W. Bangerth, C. R. Johnson, D. K. Njeru, B. van Bloemen Waanders. “Estimating and using information in inverse problems,” Subtitled “arXiv:2208.09095,” 2022.


For inverse problems one attempts to infer spatially variable functions from indirect measurements of a system. To practitioners of inverse problems, the concept of ``information'' is familiar when discussing key questions such as which parts of the function can be inferred accurately and which cannot. For example, it is generally understood that we can identify system parameters accurately only close to detectors, or along ray paths between sources and detectors, because we have ``the most information'' for these places.

Although referenced in many publications, the ``information'' that is invoked in such contexts is not a well understood and clearly defined quantity. Herein, we present a definition of information density that is based on the variance of coefficients as derived from a Bayesian reformulation of the inverse problem. We then discuss three areas in which this information density can be useful in practical algorithms for the solution of inverse problems, and illustrate the usefulness in one of these areas -- how to choose the discretization mesh for the function to be reconstructed -- using numerical experiments.

M. Han, S. Sane, C. R. Johnson. “Exploratory Lagrangian-Based Particle Tracing Using Deep Learning,” In Journal of Flow Visualization and Image Processing, Begell, 2022.
DOI: 10.1615/JFlowVisImageProc.2022041197


Time-varying vector fields produced by computational fluid dynamics simulations are often prohibitively large and pose challenges for accurate interactive analysis and exploration. To address these challenges, reduced Lagrangian representations have been increasingly researched as a means to improve scientific time-varying vector field exploration capabilities. This paper presents a novel deep neural network-based particle tracing method to explore time-varying vector fields represented by Lagrangian flow maps. In our workflow, in situ processing is first utilized to extract Lagrangian flow maps, and deep neural networks then use the extracted data to learn flow field behavior. Using a trained model to predict new particle trajectories offers a fixed small memory footprint and fast inference. To demonstrate and evaluate the proposed method, we perform an in-depth study of performance using a well-known analytical data set, the Double Gyre. Our study considers two flow map extraction strategies, the impact of the number of training samples and integration durations on efficacy, evaluates multiple sampling options for training and testing, and informs hyperparameter settings. Overall, we find our method requires a fixed memory footprint of 10.5 MB to encode a Lagrangian representation of a time-varying vector field while maintaining accuracy. For post hoc analysis, loading the trained model costs only two seconds, significantly reducing the burden of I/O when reading data for visualization. Moreover, our parallel implementation can infer one hundred locations for each of two thousand new pathlines in 1.3 seconds using one NVIDIA Titan RTX GPU.

D. K. Njeru, T. M. Athawale, J. J. France, C. R. Johnson. “Quantifying and Visualizing Uncertainty for Source Localisation in Electrocardiographic Imaging,” In Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering: Imaging & Visualization, Taylor & Francis, pp. 1--11. 2022.
DOI: 10.1080/21681163.2022.2113824


Electrocardiographic imaging (ECGI) presents a clinical opportunity to noninvasively understand the sources of arrhythmias for individual patients. To help increase the effectiveness of ECGI, we provide new ways to visualise associated measurement and modelling errors. In this paper, we study source localisation uncertainty in two steps: First, we perform Monte Carlo simulations of a simple inverse ECGI source localisation model with error sampling to understand the variations in ECGI solutions. Second, we present multiple visualisation techniques, including confidence maps, level-sets, and topology-based visualisations, to better understand uncertainty in source localization. Our approach offers a new way to study uncertainty in the ECGI pipeline.

T.A.J. Ouermi, R.M. Kirby, M. Berzins. “ENO-Based High-Order Data-Bounded and Constrained Positivity-Preserving Interpolation,” Subtitled “,” In Numerical Algorithms, 2022.


A number of key scientific computing applications that are based upon tensor-product grid constructions, such as numerical weather prediction (NWP) and combustion simulations, require property-preserving interpolation. Essentially Non-Oscillatory (ENO) interpolation is a classic example of such interpolation schemes. In the aforementioned application areas, property preservation often manifests itself as a requirement for either data boundedness or positivity preservation. For example, in NWP, one may have to interpolate between the grid on which the dynamics is calculated to a grid on which the physics is calculated (and back). Interpolating density or other key physical quantities without accounting for property preservation may lead to negative values that are nonphysical and result in inaccurate representations and/or interpretations of the physical data. Property-preserving interpolation is straightforward when used in the context of low-order numerical simulation methods. High-order property-preserving interpolation is, however, nontrivial, especially in the case where the interpolation points are not equispaced. In this paper, we demonstrate that it is possible to construct high-order interpolation methods that ensure either data boundedness or constrained positivity preservation. A novel feature of the algorithm is that the positivity-preserving interpolant is constrained; that is, the amount by which it exceeds the data values may be strictly controlled. The algorithm we have developed comes with theoretical estimates that provide sufficient conditions for data boundedness and constrained positivity preservation. We demonstrate the application of our algorithm on a collection of 1D and 2D numerical examples, and show that in all cases property preservation is respected.

S. Sane, C. R. Johnson, H. Childs. “Demonstrating the viability of Lagrangian in situ reduction on supercomputers,” In Journal of Computational Science, Vol. 61, Elsevier, 2022.


Performing exploratory analysis and visualization of large-scale time-varying computational science applications is challenging due to inaccuracies that arise from under-resolved data. In recent years, Lagrangian representations of the vector field computed using in situ processing are being increasingly researched and have emerged as a potential solution to enable exploration. However, prior works have offered limited estimates of the encumbrance on the simulation code as they consider “theoretical” in situ environments. Further, the effectiveness of this approach varies based on the nature of the vector field, benefitting from an in-depth investigation for each application area. With this study, an extended version of Sane et al. (2021), we contribute an evaluation of Lagrangian analysis viability and efficacy for simulation codes executing at scale on a supercomputer. We investigated previously unexplored cosmology and seismology applications as well as conducted a performance benchmarking study by using a hydrodynamics mini-application targeting exascale computing. To inform encumbrance, we integrated in situ infrastructure with simulation codes, and evaluated Lagrangian in situ reduction in representative homogeneous and heterogeneous HPC environments. To inform post hoc accuracy, we conducted a statistical analysis across a range of spatiotemporal configurations as well as a qualitative evaluation. Additionally, our study contributes cost estimates for distributed-memory post hoc reconstruction. In all, we demonstrate viability for each application — data reduction to less than 1% of the total data via Lagrangian representations, while maintaining accurate reconstruction and requiring under 10% of total execution time in over 90% of our experiments.


T. M. Athawale, B. J. Stanislawski, S. Sane,, C. R. Johnson. “Visualizing Interactions Between Solar Photovoltaic Farms and the Atmospheric Boundary Layer,” In Twelfth ACM International Conference on Future Energy Systems, pp. 377--381. 2021.


The efficiency of solar panels depends on the operating temperature. As the panel temperature rises, efficiency drops. Thus, the solar energy community aims to understand the factors that influence the operating temperature, which include wind speed, wind direction, turbulence, ambient temperature, mounting configuration, and solar cell material. We use high-resolution numerical simulations to model the flow and thermal behavior of idealized solar farms. Because these simulations model such complex behavior, advanced visualization techniques are needed to investigate and understand the results. Here, we present advanced 3D visualizations of numerical simulation results to illustrate the flow and heat transport in an idealized solar farm. The findings can be used to understand how flow behavior influences module temperatures, and vice versa.

T. M. Athawale, S. Sane, C. R. Johnson. “Uncertainty Visualization of the Marching Squares and Marching Cubes Topology Cases,” Subtitled “arXiv:2108.03066,” 2021.


Marching squares (MS) and marching cubes (MC) are widely used algorithms for level-set visualization of scientific data. In this paper, we address the challenge of uncertainty visualization of the topology cases of the MS and MC algorithms for uncertain scalar field data sampled on a uniform grid. The visualization of the MS and MC topology cases for uncertain data is challenging due to their exponential nature and the possibility of multiple topology cases per cell of a grid. We propose the topology case count and entropy-based techniques for quantifying uncertainty in the topology cases of the MS and MC algorithms when noise in data is modeled with probability distributions. We demonstrate the applicability of our techniques for independent and correlated uncertainty assumptions. We visualize the quantified topological uncertainty via color mapping proportional to uncertainty, as well as with interactive probability queries in the MS case and entropy isosurfaces in the MC case. We demonstrate the utility of our uncertainty quantification framework in identifying the isovalues exhibiting relatively high topological uncertainty. We illustrate the effectiveness of our techniques via results on synthetic, simulation, and hixel datasets.

T. M. Athawale, B. Ma, E. Sakhaee, C. R. Johnson,, A. Entezari. “Direct Volume Rendering with Nonparametric Models of Uncertainty,” In IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 1797-1807. 2021.
DOI: 10.1109/TVCG.2020.3030394


We present a nonparametric statistical framework for the quantification, analysis, and propagation of data uncertainty in direct volume rendering (DVR). The state-of-the-art statistical DVR framework allows for preserving the transfer function (TF) of the ground truth function when visualizing uncertain data; however, the existing framework is restricted to parametric models of uncertainty. In this paper, we address the limitations of the existing DVR framework by extending the DVR framework for nonparametric distributions. We exploit the quantile interpolation technique to derive probability distributions representing uncertainty in viewing-ray sample intensities in closed form, which allows for accurate and efficient computation. We evaluate our proposed nonparametric statistical models through qualitative and quantitative comparisons with the mean-field and parametric statistical models, such as uniform and Gaussian, as well as Gaussian mixtures. In addition, we present an extension of the state-of-the-art rendering parametric framework to 2D TFs for improved DVR classifications. We show the applicability of our uncertainty quantification framework to ensemble, downsampled, and bivariate versions of scalar field datasets.

H. Bhatia, D. Hoang, N. Morrical, V. Pascucci, P.T. Bremer, P. Lindstrom. “AMM: Adaptive Multilinear Meshes,” Subtitled “arXiv:2007.15219,” 2021.


Adaptive representations are increasingly indispensable for reducing the in-memory and on-disk footprints of large-scale data. Usual solutions are designed broadly along two themes: reducing data precision, e.g., through compression, or adapting data resolution, e.g., using spatial hierarchies. Recent research suggests that combining the two approaches, i.e., adapting both resolution and precision simultaneously, can offer significant gains over using them individually. However, there currently exist no practical solutions to creating and evaluating such representations at scale. In this work, we present a new resolution-precision-adaptive representation to support hybrid data reduction schemes and offer an interface to existing tools and algorithms. Through novelties in spatial hierarchy, our representation, Adaptive Multilinear Meshes (AMM), provides considerable reduction in the mesh size. AMM creates a piecewise multilinear representation of uniformly sampled scalar data and can selectively relax or enforce constraints on conformity, continuity, and coverage, delivering a flexible adaptive representation. AMM also supports representing the function using mixed-precision values to further the achievable gains in data reduction. We describe a practical approach to creating AMM incrementally using arbitrary orderings of data and demonstrate AMM on six types of resolution and precision datastreams. By interfacing with state-of-the-art rendering tools through VTK, we demonstrate the practical and computational advantages of our representation for visualization techniques. With an open-source release of our tool to create AMM, we make such evaluation of data reduction accessible to the community, which we hope will foster new opportunities and future data reduction schemes

J. K. Holmen, D. Sahasrabudhe, M. Berzins, A. Bardakoff, T. J. Blattner, . Keyrouz. “Uintah+Hedgehog: Combining Parallelism Models for End-to-End Large-Scale Simulation Performance,” Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute, 2021.


The complexity of heterogeneous nodes near and at exascale has increased the need for “heroic” programming efforts. To accommodate this complexity, significant investment is required for codes not yet optimizing for low-level architecture features (e.g., wide vector units) and/or running at large-scale. This paper describes ongoing efforts to combine two codes, Hedgehog and Uintah, lying at both extremes to ease programming efforts. The end goals of this effort are (1) to combine the two codes to make an asynchronous many-task runtime system specializing in both node-level and large-scale performance and (2) to further improve the accessibility of both with portable abstractions. A prototype adopting Hedgehog in Uintah and a prototype extending Hedgehog to support MPI+X hybrid parallelism are discussed. Results achieving ∼60% of NVIDIA V100 GPU peak performance for a distributed DGEMM problem are shown for a naive MPI+Hedgehog implementation before any attempt to optimize for performance.

Authors note: This is a refereed but unpublished report that was
submitted to, reviewed for and accepted in revised form for a presentation of the same material at the Hipar Workshop at Supercomputing 21

C. R. Johnson. “Translational computer science at the scientific computing and imaging institute,” In Journal of Computational Science, Vol. 52, pp. 101217. 2021.
ISSN: 1877-7503


The Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute at the University of Utah evolved from the SCI research group, started in 1994 by Professors Chris Johnson and Rob MacLeod. Over time, research centers funded by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, and State of Utah significantly spurred growth, and SCI became a permanent interdisciplinary research institute in 2000. The SCI Institute is now home to more than 150 faculty, students, and staff. The history of the SCI Institute is underpinned by a culture of multidisciplinary, collaborative research, which led to its emergence as an internationally recognized leader in the development and use of visualization, scientific computing, and image analysis research to solve important problems in a broad range of domains in biomedicine, science, and engineering. A particular hallmark of SCI Institute research is the creation of open source software systems, including the SCIRun scientific problem-solving environment, Seg3D, ImageVis3D, Uintah, ViSUS, Nektar++, VisTrails, FluoRender, and FEBio. At this point, the SCI Institute has made more than 50 software packages broadly available to the scientific community under open-source licensing and supports them through web pages, documentation, and user groups. While the vast majority of academic research software is written and maintained by graduate students, the SCI Institute employs several professional software developers to help create, maintain, and document robust, tested, well-engineered open source software. The story of how and why we worked, and often struggled, to make professional software engineers an integral part of an academic research institute is crucial to the larger story of the SCI Institute’s success in translational computer science (TCS).

S. Sane, T. Athawale,, C.R. Johnson. “Visualization of Uncertain Multivariate Data via Feature Confidence Level-Sets,” In EuroVis 2021, 2021.


Recent advancements in multivariate data visualization have opened new research opportunities for the visualization community. In this paper, we propose an uncertain multivariate data visualization technique called feature confidence level-sets. Conceptually, feature level-sets refer to level-sets of multivariate data. Our proposed technique extends the existing idea of univariate confidence isosurfaces to multivariate feature level-sets. Feature confidence level-sets are computed by considering the trait for a specific feature, a confidence interval, and the distribution of data at each grid point in the domain. Using uncertain multivariate data sets, we demonstrate the utility of the technique to visualize regions with uncertainty in relation to the specific trait or feature, and the ability of the technique to provide secondary feature structure visualization based on uncertainty.

L. Zhou, C. R. Johnson, D. Weiskopf. “Data-Driven Space-Filling Curves,” In IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Vol. 27, No. 2, IEEE, pp. 1591-1600. 2021.
DOI: 10.1109/TVCG.2020.3030473


We propose a data-driven space-filling curve method for 2D and 3D visualization. Our flexible curve traverses the data elements in the spatial domain in a way that the resulting linearization better preserves features in space compared to existing methods. We achieve such data coherency by calculating a Hamiltonian path that approximately minimizes an objective function that describes the similarity of data values and location coherency in a neighborhood. Our extended variant even supports multiscale data via quadtrees and octrees. Our method is useful in many areas of visualization, including multivariate or comparative visualization,ensemble visualization of 2D and 3D data on regular grids, or multiscale visual analysis of particle simulations. The effectiveness of our method is evaluated with numerical comparisons to existing techniques and through examples of ensemble and multivariate datasets.


T. M. Athawale, D. Maljovec, L. Yan, C. R. Johnson, V. Pascucci,, B. Wang. “Uncertainty Visualization of 2D Morse Complex Ensembles using Statistical Summary Maps,” In IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 2020.
DOI: 10.1109/TVCG.2020.3022359


Morse complexes are gradient-based topological descriptors with close connections to Morse theory. They are widely applicable in scientific visualization as they serve as important abstractions for gaining insights into the topology of scalar fields. Noise inherent to scalar field data due to acquisitions and processing, however, limits our understanding of the Morse complexes as structural abstractions. We, therefore, explore uncertainty visualization of an ensemble of 2D Morse complexes that arise from scalar fields coupled with data uncertainty. We propose statistical summary maps as new entities for capturing structural variations and visualizing positional uncertainties of Morse complexes in ensembles. Specifically, we introduce two types of statistical summary maps -- the Probabilistic Map and the Survival Map -- to characterize the uncertain behaviors of local extrema and local gradient flows, respectively. We demonstrate the utility of our proposed approach using synthetic and real-world datasets.

M. Han, I. Wald, W. Usher, N. Morrical, A. Knoll, V. Pascucci, C.R. Johnson. “A virtual frame buffer abstraction for parallel rendering of large tiled display walls,” In 2020 IEEE Visualization Conference (VIS), pp. 11--15. 2020.
DOI: 10.1109/VIS47514.2020.00009


We present dw2, a flexible and easy-to-use software infrastructure for interactive rendering of large tiled display walls. Our library represents the tiled display wall as a single virtual screen through a display "service", which renderers connect to and send image tiles to be displayed, either from an on-site or remote cluster. The display service can be easily configured to support a range of typical network and display hardware configurations; the client library provides a straightforward interface for easy integration into existing renderers. We evaluate the performance of our display wall service in different configurations using a CPU and GPU ray tracer, in both on-site and remote rendering scenarios using multiple display walls.

S. Zellmann, M. Aumüller, N. Marshak, I. Wald. “High-Quality Rendering of Glyphs Using Hardware-Accelerated Ray Tracing,” In Eurographics Symposium on Parallel Graphics and Visualization (EGPGV), The Eurographics Association, 2020.
DOI: 10.2312/pgv.20201076


Glyph rendering is an important scientific visualization technique for 3D, time-varying simulation data and for higherdimensional data in general. Though conceptually simple, there are several different challenges when realizing glyph rendering on top of triangle rasterization APIs, such as possibly prohibitive polygon counts, limitations of what shapes can be used for the glyphs, issues with visual clutter, etc. In this paper, we investigate the use of hardware ray tracing for high-quality, highperformance glyph rendering, and show that this not only leads to a more flexible and often more elegant solution for dealing with number and shape of glyphs, but that this can also help address visual clutter, and even provide additional visual cues that can enhance understanding of the dataset.

T. A. J. Ouermi, R. M. Kirby, M. Berzins. “Numerical Testing of a New Positivity-Preserving Interpolation Algorithm,” Subtitled “arXiv,” 2020.


An important component of a number of computational modeling algorithms is an interpolation method that preserves the positivity of the function being interpolated. This report describes the numerical testing of a new positivity-preserving algorithm that is designed to be used when interpolating from a solution defined on one grid to different spatial grid. The motivating application is a numerical weather prediction (NWP) code that uses spectral elements as the discretization choice for its dynamics core and Cartesian product meshes for the evaluation of its physics routines. This combination of spectral elements, which use nonuniformly spaced quadrature/collocation points, and uniformly-spaced Cartesian meshes combined with the desire to maintain positivity when moving between these necessitates our work. This new approach is evaluated against several typical algorithms in use on a range of test problems in one or more space dimensions. The results obtained show that the new method is competitive in terms of observed accuracy while at the same time preserving the underlying positivity of the functions being interpolated.

F. Wang, N. Marshak, W. Usher, C. Burstedde, A. Knoll, T. Heister, C. R. Johnson. “CPU Ray Tracing of Tree-Based Adaptive Mesh Refinement Data,” In Eurographics Conference on Visualization (EuroVis) 2020, Vol. 39, No. 3, 2020.


Adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) techniques allow for representing a simulation’s computation domain in an adaptive fashion. Although these techniques have found widespread adoption in high-performance computing simulations, visualizing their data output interactively and without cracks or artifacts remains challenging. In this paper, we present an efficient solution for direct volume rendering and hybrid implicit isosurface ray tracing of tree-based AMR (TB-AMR) data. We propose a novel reconstruction strategy, Generalized Trilinear Interpolation (GTI), to interpolate across AMR level boundaries without cracks or discontinuities in the surface normal. We employ a general sparse octree structure supporting a wide range of AMR data, and use it to accelerate volume rendering, hybrid implicit isosurface rendering and value queries. We demonstrate that our approach achieves artifact-free isosurface and volume rendering and provides higher quality output images compared to existing methods at interactive rendering rates.

L. Zhou, M. Rivinius, C. R. Johnson,, D. Weiskopf. “Photographic High-Dynamic-Range Scalar Visualization,” In IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Vol. 26, No. 6, IEEE, pp. 2156-2167. 2020.


We propose a photographic method to show scalar values of high dynamic range (HDR) by color mapping for 2D visualization. We combine (1) tone-mapping operators that transform the data to the display range of the monitor while preserving perceptually important features based on a systematic evaluation and (2) simulated glares that highlight high-value regions. Simulated glares are effective for highlighting small areas (of a few pixels) that may not be visible with conventional visualizations; through a controlled perception study, we confirm that glare is preattentive. The usefulness of our overall photographic HDR visualization is validated through the feedback of expert users.