Corporate and External Relations
Cornell Theory Center
423 E&TC, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-3801 USA
v: (607) 254-8716
f: (607) 254-8888
Education, K12; Research, academic
Innovative or improved ways of doing things; More equitable access to technology or electronic information; Creation of new ideas, products, or services; Technology transfer; Local commitment to network-based activities; Partnerships between public and private sector
Supporting Documentation (contact author for more information):
Video; Software; Documentation; Slides/photographs I AM ONLY SENDING SLIDES FOR NOW; (probably); Computer graphic images, such as GIF files (probably)
Technology Transfer on the Internet A new paradigm for technology transfer, training, and research is evolving within the supportive environment of the national information network, the Internet. The model is unique to this realm of open communication where technologies, such as a cutting edge group of tools for scientific visualization, can grow and evolve as if they had lives of their own.
At the Cornell Theory Center, one such tool, DataExplorer (DX), an IBM product, has been the focus of collaborative development since January of 1991. In two years this powerful, flexible software for scientific visualization has been customized for use by molecular biologists, quantum physicists, and undergraduates in computer graphics. This would not be so exciting, if it weren’t for the mode of DX’s evolution.
Theoretical chemist Richard Gillilan is encouraging other researchers to take advantage of this new style of computer visualization. A Theory Center researcher, Gillilan believes that tools such as DX can literally change the way scientists think. He sees the data flow model on which DX is based as fundamental to the next wave of scientific computing, one that is intrinsically suited to development across the Internet.
According to Gillilan, DX provides a set of high-level building blocks. Users create custom visual programs from basic objects and modules presented in a data flow context through a graphical user interface, connecting the blocks into a visualized network resembling a flow chart of the computing process. Once saved (with the documentation visually built in by virtue of the interface), these networks can immediately be shared.
DX is a point-and-click programming language that encourages visual exploration, not just visualization of results-a working tool for anyone with a graphics workstation, says Bruce Land, visualization group leader at the Theory Center. Committed to its support, the Theory Center has included DX in its own graphical interface, the Scientists Workbench. Land incorporates exercises on DX into his undergraduate course on computer graphics. Land’s students not only learn to use this software, but also have contributed modules to the public domain.
These modules, as well as more complex combinations of modules referred to as macros, can now be accessed via the Internet. Their home is called a repository and they are not alone. This is the site for technology transfer, and herein lies the new paradigm.
Modules, tutorials, helpful hints, and examples become available as soon as they are completed in this new paradigm-a virtual technology swap meet. Jim Jordan, manager of IBM’s Supercomputing Technology Center, is excited by this new opportunity for technology transfer. “What would have taken years to percolate out through the research community is now immediately available. This makes the user more productive and prevents the reinvention of the wheel. I know of very few effective ways to share teaching tools other than through the Internet.”
And the tools are being shared, not only by computational scientists but also by undergraduates-the users of the future. Jim Lucas, a junior at SUNY Plattsburgh, inspired by using DX for his summer research project at the Theory Center, returned to create a video introducing other students to this new and intuitive way of seeing data. According to visualization specialist Martin Berggren, users like Jim will soon be producing and contributing animations to the repository entirely via the Internet.
DX is growing in an experimental environment, a repository on the Internet. Seeded by Theory Center specialists and scientists, in collaboration with IBM, the developer of the basic product, it is now getting care and feeding, not just from Cornell and IBM, but also from scientists and students across the nation.