Entries tagged with “weave” 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.

GSOC  IVPR students.jpg
(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

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.

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

Alexander Baumann, a doctoral student in UMass Lowell’s Computer Science department and researcher at the Institute for Visualization and Perception Research (IVPR), successfully defended his doctoral dissertation on May 9, 2011. Dr. Baumann’s research and thesis, entitled “The Design and Implementation of Weave: a Session State Driven, Web-Based Visualization Framework,” was advised by Prof. Georges Grinstein of the Computer Science department.

Baumann’s research focused on the design and development of Weave, a web-based data visualization framework that is now available under an open source license. Dr. Baumann oversaw the development of this software package from its original design to the current implementation with his research on a novel windowing environment for web-based data visualization that allows transitions between many types of user interactions and layouts.

Baumann’s work was funded by the Open Indicators Consortium (OIC), which was founded to both develop this platform and offer a community of learning for not-for-profits and government agencies who deal with indicator data, or custom measures that track progress towards a goal or quality of an entity. The agile development process was used to provide the members with regular releases and use their feedback to drive feature design and evolution.

Dr. Baumann extended many of the concepts of the earlier desktop-based Universal Visualization Platform in whose development he participated. He led the team in its first Weave designs, and through the feedback from the OIC, extended that design to provide a more flexible and customizable framework for web-based data visualizations. The new design supports dynamic customizable layouts, visualizations targeted to different levels of users, and exploratory data visualization, all within a novel windowing environment.

Prof. Grinstein noted that there are already many users of the software ranging from small communities to cities such as Boston, Seattle, Chicago and Atlanta, to states such as Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, with many more anticipated users.

Dr. Baumann has accepted a position as Software Product Developer at Knome, a genome sequencing platform company in Cambridge, MA founded in 2007 by Harvard Geneticist George Church. KNome has just received $5 million of an expected $20 million equity round of funding.

Dr. Baumann’s dissertation committee readers were Dr. William Mass (Economic and Social Development of Regions) and Dr. Haim Levkowitz (Computer Science). Baumann's thesis document is archived on ProQuest.

The novel windowing environment within Weave. The image at the top left shows a single map tool with quality of life index data for each country within a movable, resizable, customizable window. At the bottom of this image is the minimized tool area that windows are moved to when minimized using an animated transition. When this area is hovered over with a mouse, the size of it increases to show screenshots of the minimized tools, and the name of the window is shown in a tooltip. Clicking on a tool restores it to its original layout. The windowing environment allows defining static layouts such as the Lowell foreclosure example: tools can be resized, positioned and customized and then turned to a static view that removes all windowing controls and fixes their position and sizes.
Five Computer Science undergraduates presented at the 3rd Annual New England Undergraduate Computing Syposium (NEUCS), held on April 9, 2011 at Tufts University.

The event is supported by the Empowering Leadership Alliance, and is organized to “celebrate excellence and diversity in undergraduate computing in New England.” Past NEUCS symposia were held at Wellesley College and Boston University.

As in the past, this year’s event attracted a wide range of undergraduate student work, including research projects, course projects, and personal projects. 

Five UMass Lowell undergraduates presented at the conference:

  • Krithika Manohar and Kyle Monico presented “Open Source Data Visualization for the Masses,” based on their work on the WEAVE project in Prof. Georges Grinstein’s research group.
  • Eric Fairbanks presented “Repurposing the Nintendo Gameboy for Computational Music,” a personal project in which he developed a custom programmer for the classic GameBoy platform, and is writing code to generate computational music.
The symposium was a great opportunity for networking, sharing, and appreciating the range of creative work done by the region’s undergraduate computing students.

Fairbanks’ poster, which included a large image of a GameBoy device, attracted a lot of attention.  Afterward, he commented that “I met some cool people, and it was fun to learn they were really interested in what I was doing.”

Students from UMass Lowell have participated in all three years that the event has been running, and the Computer Science department may host a future NEUCS symposium.

UMass Lowell students at the NEUCS 2011 event. From L-R: Eric Fairbanks, Mario Barrenechea (UMass Amherst), Kyle Monico, Patrick Stickney, Krithika Manohar, and John Fallon.

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