Entries tagged with “ivpr” from Computer Science Department News

Five students from the Institute for Visualization and Perception Research (IVPR) at UMass Lowell were accepted into the Google Summer of Code program this summer.

Google Summer of Code (GSoC) is an international program that awards stipends to software developers to write code for open-source software projects. GSoC pairs students with mentors who are experienced in real-world software development. At the end of the summer, source code created during the program is released as open-source.

Each student worked to improve Weave, the free open-source data visualization and analysis platform that was developed by the IVPR and released in 2011:

  • Sanjay Anbalagan (doctoral student): Extending the Open-source Weave Analysis and Visualization Platform for the Biological Community. Sanjay designed a process that accesses multiple publicly available gene expression data sets, imports that data into Weave and uses Weave analysis features to examine, visualize and compare gene expression profiles.
  • Andrew Dufilie (doctoral student): Asynchronous Rendering to Support Large Data Sets in Weave. Andy improved Weave performance by developing a threading system for its single-threaded ActionScript code base. This means the interface remains highly responsive even when visualizing large data sets of 300,000 records or more.
  • John Fallon (senior): Collaboration in Visualization. John created, implemented and tested the first version of collaboration in the Weave environment, allowing multiple users to work together, simultaneously and remotely, when creating visualizations and performing data analysis in Weave.
  • Heather Granz (doctoral student): An Accessibility Module for Visualizations Using Weave, an Open- source Visualization Platform. Heather developed and tested a Weave-to-JAWS interface that provides descriptions of Weave visualizations in text format. This work is a first step in a larger, more ambitious project that will eventually allow Weave to generate natural language text descriptions of interactive visualizations that are compatible with the JAWS screen-reading system.
  • Sebastin Kolman (doctoral student): InfoMaps: A Tool for Personal Information Management and Analysis. Sebastin implemented InfoMaps, a visualization tool for personal information management, in the Weave environment and extended its support for document visualization and analysis including local file systems.
All five students felt they had benefited from the Google program.

According to senior John Fallon, “It was a positive experience -- getting to contribute to an open-source project, working with experienced programmers and having a professor as a mentor the whole way through”.

Doctoral student, Andy Dufilie, the Weave project engineer, noted, “The major architectural changes I made produced unexpected consequences, requiring much more work than originally planned. The takeaway is to always expect the unexpected when estimating development time.”

The Institute for Visualization and Perception Research at UMass Lowell is led by Prof. Georges Grinstein.

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(L-R) 2012 Google Summer of Code alumni Sanjay Anbalagan, Sebastin Kolman, Andy Dufilie, Heather Granz and John Fallon. Their work expanded and improved Weave, the open-source data visualization and analysis platform.

Weave demonstrated at Data Day

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Prof. Georges Grinstein and graduate students Mary Beth Smrtic and Andy Dufilie presented a new software platform, Weave (Web-based analysis and visualization environment), to more than 300 attendants and 500 webcast viewers at the fourth annual Data Day held on January 27, 2012 in Boston. This was the first public presentation of Weave—the culmination of three years of design and development work at UMass Lowell’s Institute for Visualization and Perception Research.

Weave is an interactive web-based software system that links multiple visualizations (maps, charts, graphs, etc.) and computational tools (statistics, data mining, modeling and simulation). It was designed to provide easy access to existing datasets or simple upload of local data, allowing anyone to visualize any available data anywhere.   

Weave was developed with support from the Open Indicators Consortium (OIC) specifically to simplify the process of presenting and visualizing data. The 15 OIC member groups wanted a state-of-the-art high-performance web-based visualization system tailored to the needs of groups that analyze and share indicator data.

In addition, OIC members felt that the high cost of commercial software had created a financial barrier, which limited the ability of individuals and small non-profits to visually analyze and share data.  For this reason, OIC seeded the initial software development activity and all agreed that the new software would be available as open source. The OIC helped identify the diverse feature requirements and its members served as the first beta test sites.

Weave is now available to the public, free and open source—one less barrier to the democratization of data.

In addition to the presentation by Grinstein and students, several OIC members demonstrated their use of Weave, which now powers websites such as the Connecticut Data Collaborative , Rhode Island’s RI DataHUB and the newly re-launched MetroBoston DataCommon.

Data Day 2012, co-sponsored by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Boston Indicators Project at The Boston Foundation, is a one-day conference that examines innovative ways to help organizations and municipalities expand their capacity to use technology and data.

For more, see a February 8, 2012 article in Computer World.

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Prof. Georges Grinstein representing the Open Indicators Consortium and discussing Weave at Data Day at Northeastern University. (Photo courtesy Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.)

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