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SCI Visit Trip Report

[img_assist|nid=827|title=University of Utah, view from "The Point"|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=200|height=160]

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute at the University of Utah, where I met with Claudio Silva, Juliana Freire, and their students.

Our goal was to exchange information and set a strategy for integrating VisTrails, the excellent provenance management software, into daily operations here at CMOP.

Work on VisTrails is progressing at an impressive pace; I was able to hear about several new features that are available in the current release, as well as some upcoming features.

  • Complex pipelines can have hundreds of parameters, but only of few of them may be relevant for a particular application. Bookmarks allow the user to explicitly mark these relevant parameters and build a simplified interface for using the pipeline. This feature is a nice generalization of the approach we use in our CMOP Product Factory.
  • Medleys are an extension of the bookmark idea to allow multiple pipelines to be organized into a single application. On the horizon is the automatic generation of web interfaces from these abstract pipeline medleys.
  • VisTrails now has a complete database backend for more effective sharing between users. That is, VisTrails can now transparently switch between use as a personal desktop program or as a collaborative development environment.
  • New applications of VisTrails in Psychiatry and Cosmology demonstrate the flexibility and expressive power of the system.
  • My own gridfield package for VisTrails, used to algebraically manipulate gridded datasets, has been ported to Windows and fully integrated into VisTrails. We are in the process of organizing all our existing work with VisTrails at CMOP into one large "Trail" and deliver it to CMOP analysts.

Collaboration Agenda

  1. Gather and deploy all existing VisTrails visualizations in a single Trail. Install VisTrails at CMOP in shared/database mode for all potential users.
  2. Inspired by the NCSA Storm Visualization (link forthcoming), the SCI group will investigate a showcase visualization for CMOP model results.
  3. We will work on an additional showcase visualization using the data collected from the August 2007 multi-ship cruise. The idea is to develop a fully dynamic and potentially interactive version of the static "ocean integration illustrations" commonly produced by oceanographic institutions (e.g., MBARI's illustration below (source:
  4. SCI group will investigate the "forecast sandbox" provided by Bill and Charles and consider the issues in implementing the workflow as a VisTrails pipeline.
  5. I will also establish a bi-weekly or monthly Cyberinfrastructure meeting focusing on strategy and issues related to computer science research and CMOP system development.