Isosurface Visualization of Data with Nonparametric Models for Uncertainty

IEEE Trans Vis Comput Graph. 2016 Jan;22(1):777-86. doi: 10.1109/TVCG.2015.2467958.


The problem of isosurface extraction in uncertain data is an important research problem and may be approached in two ways. One can extract statistics (e.g., mean) from uncertain data points and visualize the extracted field. Alternatively, data uncertainty, characterized by probability distributions, can be propagated through the isosurface extraction process. We analyze the impact of data uncertainty on topology and geometry extraction algorithms. A novel, edge-crossing probability based approach is proposed to predict underlying isosurface topology for uncertain data. We derive a probabilistic version of the midpoint decider that resolves ambiguities that arise in identifying topological configurations. Moreover, the probability density function characterizing positional uncertainty in isosurfaces is derived analytically for a broad class of nonparametric distributions. This analytic characterization can be used for efficient closed-form computation of the expected value and variation in geometry. Our experiments show the computational advantages of our analytic approach over Monte-Carlo sampling for characterizing positional uncertainty. We also show the advantage of modeling underlying error densities in a nonparametric statistical framework as opposed to a parametric statistical framework through our experiments on ensemble datasets and uncertain scalar fields.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.