Highly Parallel Geometric Characterization and Visualization of Volumetric Data Sets
Juba, Derek Christopher
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Volumetric 3D data sets are being generated in many different application areas. Some examples are CAT scans and MRI data, 3D models of protein molecules represented by implicit surfaces, multi-dimensional numeric simulations of plasma turbulence, and stacks of confocal microscopy images of cells. The size of these data sets has been increasing, requiring the speed of analysis and visualization techniques to also increase to keep up. Recent advances in processor technology have stopped increasing clock speed and instead begun increasing parallelism, resulting in multi-core CPUS and many-core GPUs. To take advantage of these new parallel architectures, algorithms must be explicitly written to exploit parallelism. In this thesis we describe several algorithms and techniques for volumetric data set analysis and visualization that are amenable to these modern parallel architectures. We first discuss modeling volumetric data with Gaussian Radial Basis Functions (RBFs). RBF representation of a data set has several advantages, including lossy compression, analytic differentiability, and analytic application of Gaussian blur. We also describe a parallel volume rendering algorithm that can create images of the data directly from the RBF representation. Next we discuss a parallel, stochastic algorithm for measuring the surface area of volumetric representations of molecules. The algorithm is suitable for implementation on a GPU and is also progressive, allowing it to return a rough answer almost immediately and refine the answer over time to the desired level of accuracy. After this we discuss the concept of Confluent Visualization, which allows the visualization of the interaction between a pair of volumetric data sets. The interaction is visualized through volume rendering, which is well suited to implementation on parallel architectures. Finally we discuss a parallel, stochastic algorithm for classifying stem cells as having been grown on a surface that induces differentiation or on a surface that does not induce differentiation. The algorithm takes as input 3D volumetric models of the cells generated from confocal microscopy. This algorithm builds on our algorithm for surface area measurement and, like that algorithm, this algorithm is also suitable for implementation on a GPU and is progressive.