Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New tool enables powerful data analysis

12.01.2009
A powerful yet compact algorithm has been developed that can be used on laptop computers to extract features and patterns from huge and complex data sets

A powerful computing tool that allows scientists to extract features and patterns from enormously large and complex sets of raw data has been developed by scientists at University of California, Davis, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The tool – a set of problem-solving calculations known as an algorithm – is compact enough to run on computers with as little as two gigabytes of memory.

The team that developed this algorithm has already used it to probe a slew of phenomena represented by billions of data points, including analyzing and creating images of flame surfaces; searching for clusters and voids in a virtual universe experiment; and identifying and tracking pockets of fluid in a simulated mixing of two fluids.

"What we've developed is a workable system of handling any data in any dimension," said Attila Gyulassy, who led the five-year development effort while pursuing a PhD in computer science at UC Davis. "We expect this algorithm will become an integral part of a scientist's toolbox to answer questions about data."

A paper describing the new algorithm was published in the November-December issue of IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics.

Computers are widely used to perform simulations of real-world phenomena and to capture results of physical experiments and observations, storing this information as collections of numbers. But as the size of these data sets has burgeoned, hand-in-hand with computer capacity, analysis has grown increasingly difficult.

A mathematical tool to extract and visualize useful features from data sets has existed for nearly 40 years – in theory. Called the Morse-Smale complex, it partitions sets by similarity of features and encodes them into mathematical terms. But working with the Morse-Smale complex is not easy. "It's a powerful language. But a cost of that, is that using it meaningfully for practical applications is very difficult," Gyulassy said.

Gyulassy's algorithm divides data sets into parcels of cells, then analyzes each parcel separately using the Morse-Smale complex. Results of those computations are then merged together. As new parcels are created from merged parcels, they are analyzed and merged yet again. At each step, data that do not need to be stored in memory are discarded, drastically reducing the computing power required to run the calculations.

One of Gyulassy's tests of the algorithm was to use it to analyze and track the formation and movement of pockets of fluid in the simulated mixing of two fluids: one dense, one light. The complexity of this data set is so vast – it consists of more than one billion data points on a three-dimensional grid – it challenges even supercomputers, Gyulassy said. Yet the new algorithm with its streamlining features was able to perform the analysis on a laptop computer with just two gigabytes of memory. Although Gyulassy had to wait nearly 24 hours for the little machine to complete its calculations, at the end of this process he could pull up images in mere seconds to illustrate phenomena he was interested in, such as the branching of fluid pockets in the mixture.

Two main factors are driving the need for analysis of large data sets, said co-author Bernd Hamann: a surge in the use of powerful computers that can produce huge amounts of data, and an upswing in affordability and availability of sensing devices that researchers deploy in the field and lab to collect a profusion of data.

"Our data files are becoming larger and larger, while the scientist has less and less time to understand them," said Hamann, a professor of computer science and associate vice chancellor for research at UC Davis. "But what are the data good for if we don't have the means of applying mathematically sound and computationally efficient computer analysis tools to look for what is captured in them?"

Gyulassy is currently developing software that will allow others to put the algorithm to use. He expects the learning curve to be steep for this open-source product, "but if you just learn the minimal amount about what a Morse-Smale complex is," he said, "it will be pretty intuitive."

Liese Greensfelder | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucdavis.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles
23.11.2017 | IMDEA Networks Institute

nachricht NASA CubeSat to test miniaturized weather satellite technology
10.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>