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Mesh-Driven Vector Field Clustering and Visualization: An Image-Based Approach

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5 Author(s)

Vector field visualization techniques have evolved very rapidly over the last two decades, however, visualizing vector fields on complex boundary surfaces from computational flow dynamics (CFD) still remains a challenging task. In part, this is due to the large, unstructured, adaptive resolution characteristics of the meshes used in the modeling and simulation process. Out of the wide variety of existing flow field visualization techniques, vector field clustering algorithms offer the advantage of capturing a detailed picture of important areas of the domain while presenting a simplified view of areas of less importance. This paper presents a novel, robust, automatic vector field clustering algorithm that produces intuitive and insightful images of vector fields on large, unstructured, adaptive resolution boundary meshes from CFD. Our bottom-up, hierarchical approach is the first to combine the properties of the underlying vector field and mesh into a unified error-driven representation. The motivation behind the approach is the fact that CFD engineers may increase the resolution of model meshes according to importance. The algorithm has several advantages. Clusters are generated automatically, no surface parameterization is required, and large meshes are processed efficiently. The most suggestive and important information contained in the meshes and vector fields is preserved while less important areas are simplified in the visualization. Users can interactively control the level of detail by adjusting a range of clustering distance measure parameters. We describe two data structures to accelerate the clustering process. We also introduce novel visualizations of clusters inspired by statistical methods. We apply our method to a series of synthetic and complex, real-world CFD meshes to demonstrate the clustering algorithm results.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 2 )