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INTERNATIONALJOURNALFOR NUMERICAL METHODS IN ENGINEERING,VOL.
39, 355-356 (1996)
BOOK REVIEW
by Richard S.
Gallagher, CRC Press, U.S.A., 1994. No.of pages:
312, ISBN 0-8493-9050-8, Price: 69.95
COMPUTER VISUALIZATION, edited
Computer visualization has emerged as an important and widely used technology for interpreting scientific and engineering data obtained from
observation, experiment or computer simulation.
Today, most projects in computational science and
engineering entail some use of visualization techniques. While research on new visualization techniques and the development of improved graphics
systems continue, there are now available a good
number of mature commercial visualization products-either as stand-alone products or as components within larger simulation and analysis
systems.
Visualization is a highly interdisciplinary field;
computer graphics, numerical methods, application domains in science and engineering, geometric
modelling, distributed computing, perceptual psychology, graphic arts, as well as distributed and
parallel computing can all be involved. Whether
one is engaged in developing new visualization
capabilities or one is simply a user of available
technology, some level of understanding of each of
these topics is necessary for a successful result. The
book Computer Visualization, edited by Richard S.
Gallagher, provides a useful overview of several of
these topics. The book contains a collection of
articles by experts involved in developing visualization tools and in applying visualization to computational science and engineering.
The book is organized in three sections. The first
section opens with an introductory chapter by the
volume’s editor that presents an overview of computer-aided engineering and visualization. The remainder of the section is devoted to an exposition
of the fundamentals of computer graphics written
by Alain Fournier and John Buchanan. This article covers the history of computer graphics, geometric models, transformations, display techniques, hidden line and surface removal, pixelbased rendering methods, and display system
architectures. This chapter would be particularly
CCC 0029-5981/96/020355-2
0 1996 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
useful for scientists and engineers who wish to
familiarize themselves with the basic concepts and
the jargon of computer graphics.
The second section, including Chapters 3-7, is
devoted to visualization techniques. In Chapter 3,
Mark Shephard and William Schroeder describe
the format, generation and content of data sets
generated by numerical simulation. The emphasis
is on engineering applications of the finite element
method, although other numerical methods are
also briefly discussed. This material should be of
greatest interest to computer scientists and computer graphics experts who wish to deepen their
understanding of the engineering applications served by visualization. In addition to surveying
topics such as mesh generation, weak formulations
and adaptive analysis, there is also a discussion of
techniques for mapping element-based data sets to
visualization images.
Chapter 4, authored by Richard S. Gallagher, is
devoted to visualization display techniques for
scalar fields in one, two or three dimensions. Familiar techniques, such as contour plots and fringe
plots, as well as more sophisticated methods for
representing volumetric data sets are covered.
A fair amount of algorithmic detail is included (e.g.
for contouring data defined on isoparametric elements, for identifying the visible element faces in
volumetric grids, etc.). There is a detailed discussion of display techniques for three-dimensional scalar fields, including discussions of the
‘marching cubes’ algorithm, particle sampling and
volume slicing methods. This information is relevant to users of turnkey systems-familiarity
with the inner workings of display algorithms may
be critical to the proper interpretation of a visualization image.
Chapter 5, by Thierry Delmarcelle and Lambertus
Hesselink, presents a unified framework for flow
visualization that emphasizes the critical step of
mapping abstract scientific data into geometric
form. A number of effectivevisualization mappings
for scalar, vector and tensor-valued data sets are
discussed. These include familiar techniques, such
as streamline and vector arrow displays, as well as
356
BOOK REVIEW
several novel techniques: texture-mapped streamline displays, displays that directly communicate
the topology of a flow field and special techniques
for portraying the global structure of tensor field
data.
Rendering methods for volumetric data represent the most notable advance in computer
graphics technology associated with scientific visualization. Chapter 6, by Arie Kaufman and Lisa
Sobierajski,is devoted to a fairly detailed review of
this topic. Both surface rendering and volume rendering approaches are covered, including optimization methods for increasing the efficiency of
these relatively compute-intensive algorithms. Section 2 closes with a chapter by Eric Pepke on animation and the display of time-dependent behaviour.
A concise survey of video technology is included.
Section 3 addresses 'Applications Issues and Future Trends'. In Chapter 8, David Parker presents
an overview of software architectures for visualization systems. This chapter covers alternative
models for defining and controlling visualization
processes, parallel and distributed visualization
systems as well as the important and non-trivial
issue of data management. It references a number
of commercially available soilware products, and
would be helpful to any newcomer to visualization
faced with the problem of choosing a visualization
software product. Larry Richards discusses
applications of visualization in computer-aided engineering and engineering design education in
Chapter 9. In Chapter 10, the editor closes the
book with a discussion of emerging trends in visualization, including increased interactivity and
virtual reality, distributed visualization and hardware advances.
Computer Visualizationsurveys a number of important topics in the interdisciplinary field of scientific visualization. There are a number of attractive colour plates, and each chapter includes bibliographic citations for those readers who seek-indepth coverage of a particular topic. The book
should be of interest to physical scientists and
engineers who wish to employ visualization in
their work, as well as to computer graphics experts
and computer scientists engaged in developing visualization systems.
R. B. HABER
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics
216 Talbot Laboratory
104 South Wright Street
Urbana
Illinois 61807
U.S.A.
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