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A Phase Field Model for Continuous Clustering on Vector Fields
July-September 2001 (vol. 7 no. 3)
pp. 230-241

Abstract—A new method for the simplification of flow fields is presented. It is based on continuous clustering. A well-known physical clustering model, the Cahn Hilliard model, which describes phase separation, is modified to reflect the properties of the data to be visualized. Clusters are defined implicitly as connected components of the positivity set of a density function. An evolution equation for this function is obtained as a suitable gradient flow of an underlying anisotropic energy functional. Here, time serves as the scale parameter. The evolution is characterized by a successive coarsening of patterns—the actual clustering—during which the underlying simulation data specifies preferable pattern boundaries. We introduce specific physical quantities in the simulation to control the shape, orientation and distribution of the clusters as a function of the underlying flow field. In addition, the model is expanded, involving elastic effects. In the early stages of the evolution shear layer type representation of the flow field can thereby be generated, whereas, for later stages, the distribution of clusters can be influenced. Furthermore, we incorporate upwind ideas to give the clusters an oriented drop-shaped appearance. Here, we discuss the applicability of this new type of approach mainly for flow fields, where the cluster energy penalizes cross streamline boundaries. However, the method also carries provisions for other fields as well. The clusters can be displayed directly as a flow texture. Alternatively, the clusters can be visualized by iconic representations, which are positioned by using a skeletonization algorithm.

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Index Terms:
Flow visualization, clustering, Cahn-Hilliard, multiscale, nonlinear diffusion, finite elements, skeletonization.
Harald Garcke, Tobias Preußer, Martin Rumpf, Alexandru C. Telea, Ulrich Weikard, Jarke J. van Wijk, "A Phase Field Model for Continuous Clustering on Vector Fields," IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 230-241, July-Sept. 2001, doi:10.1109/2945.942691
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