its: research computing - visualization wall

Visualizing research to see beyond the possible.

The Visualization Wall at the Kelvin Smith Library is a new, high definition display installation for use by Case Western Reserve University faculty and students who are engaged in scholarship and research that require high performance computing and large-scale visual representations of data.

As a science, visualization is the process of representing data in a form that can clearly and effectively communicate its meaning. Most visualizations are computer generated graphics born from the simulation and modeling of data, which are often 3D. Using visualization, researchers can see both large and small differences across sets of data, and discern meaningful relationships. Its use is applicable in any discipline where there is a need to identify patterns, singularities, and details that would otherwise not be apparent from raw data. Scholars of mathematics, statistics, astronomy, physics, geospatial mapping, art and medical imagery, among other disciplines, all benefit from the ability to visualize data.

Visualization has been going on at CWRU for many years through the use of the high performance computing cluster and data modeling and simulation software. The Visualization Wall adds a new, exciting layer to learning and discovery. With its 630 square inch of display and 86 million pixels, it’s bringing complex data patterns and subtleties in information even closer to the eyes of those who will discover them. The Visualization Wall will enable researchers to solve complex problems through the creation, manipulation and envisioning of highly dense and complex images and scientific data.

Visualization goes beyond number crunching. Some examples of research topics that can use visualization include:

  • a historian trying to replicate original battlefield conditions to visualize troop configurations, sight lines, or lines of attack to be able to consider “what did the General see” on the day of the battle
  • a natural scientist who needs to render molecules
  • an art historian displaying visual details across multiple works of art or tracing the provenance of different works of art across the centuries
  • an archaeologists reconstruction and analysis of the material remains, such as artifacts, inscriptions, monuments, artworks, and human, floral and faunal from an excavation
  • an ecologist modeling large-scale climate-changes
  • a biologist visualizing cell division
  • an engineer visualizing stress point in a beam

The Visualization Wall is a new service offered by Information Technology Services to further support the Research Computing and High Performance Computing Cluster services at the university. For additional information, please contact the ITS High Performance Computing team at

See the Visualization Projects page for information about faculty projects in visualization that were carried out during the 2009-2010 academic year.

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The Visualization Wall is located on the first floor of Kelvin Smith Library, 11055 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106

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