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Using VisTrails and Provenance for Teaching Scientific Visualization

TitleUsing VisTrails and Provenance for Teaching Scientific Visualization
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsSilva CT, Anderson EW, Santos E, Freire J
Journal TitleComputer Graphics Forum
Keywordseducation, provenance, scientific visualization

Over the last 20 years, visualization courses have been developed and offered at universities around the world. Many of these courses use established visualization libraries and tools (e.g., VTK, ParaView, AVS, VisIt) as a way to provide students a hands-on experience, allowing them to prototype and explore different visualization techniques. In this paper, we describe our experiences using VisTrails as a platform to teach scientific visualization. VisTrails is an open-source system that was designed to support exploratory computational tasks such as visualization and data analysis. Unlike previous scientific workflow and visualization systems, VisTrails provides a comprehensive provenance management infrastructure. We discuss how different features of the system, and in particular, the provenance information have changed the dynamics of the Scientific Visualization course we offer at the University of Utah. We also describe our initial attempts at using the provenance information to better assess our teaching techniques and student performance.