Data Visualization In Layerscape

A tutorial presented by Rob Fatland of Microsoft Research

This tutorial will focus on data--specifically Visualization towards Insight—in relation to the Layerscape toolkit. We will begin with the basic navigation and structural concepts of the WWT application including time, viewing modes, data types, and data capacity. We then proceed to example datasets: How these are typically represented and how they can be imported into WWT for rendering. We next explore story-telling around the data through construction of Tours and we will discuss Tour publication at http://layerscape.org, including preservation of metadata. We then proceed to discuss integration of data services such as a generic Web Mapping Service and FetchClimate. Throughout we will use Excel and the Excel Add In for Worldwide Telescope. Finally we will turn to the WWT API and the Developer’s Toolkit “Narwhal” that facilitates more complex rendering of data. By the conclusion of this tutorial the attendee should have a good concept of how the various parts of Layerscape fit together around the WWT visualization engine, and how an imaginative translation of geospatial and/or abstract data to pixels can give new understanding of what the numbers really mean.

Data-Constrained Environmental Modelling: FetchClimate, Filzbach, and Distribution Modeller

A tutorial presented by Drew Purves of Microsoft Research

There is an obvious and urgent need to build predictive models of important environmental phenomena. Such models need to describe how variation in different aspects of the environment – such as climate and soil – affect the phenomenon of interest, e.g. primary productivity of plants, agricultural yield, or even land-use change. But to date, the building of such predictive models has been held back by a host of technical barriers, placing it outside the reach of many environmental scientists (and making it annoyingly difficult and slow for the rest!). In the first half of this tutorial we will concentrate on FetchClimate, an html5 browser application that makes it very easy and quick to get the environmental information needed to drive the models. You’ll learn how to use FetchClimate to perform several important classes of query, including grids of climatology statistics, collections of time series (whether year-to-year or day-to-day), and to get to some future climate predictions too. Next, we’ll move on to Filzbach, which is a generic Bayesian parameter estimation engine, allowing you to define an arbitrary model, then parameterize that model against data. We’ll give examples of using Filzbach from C++, R, and Matlab – and explain the key statistical concepts that Filzbach embodies, too. Finally, you will be among the first to try ‘Distribution Modeller’, a new browser application that ties FetchClimate, Filzbach, and other pieces together, to provide and end-to-end environment for rapidly building and parameterizing models – then pushing them into FetchClimate so that they can be run on demand by anyone, anywhere.

To participate in the tutorial, you must bring a laptop PC with installed:

It would be excellent if the attendee could experiment with the above applications prior to the workshop. In particular you have two pathways of exploration open to you:

  1. Explore content at http://layerscape.org (see the Featured Content tab at lower left) and, for each Tour of interest, click on the blue button under the icon that reads “View Tour”. See for example this page.
  2. Download the Power Point presentation at this page and devote an hour or two to following through the tutorial. (Click the blue button that says “Download Content” to open the tutorial.)