vgTC Chair Candidate

Klaus Mueller 

Position Statement

“The Age of Big Data” – this is the title of a recent New York Times article. It essentially paints a vision, referring largely to business and economics, that data-driven methods will overtake experience and intuition in decision making. It was interesting to see, however, that most readers – in the comments section – did not overly agree with the article’s theme that insight would just magically reveal itself. Instead, many felt that big data would rather enable one to ask the right questions with some readers even mentioning – yes – visualization! This sounded a lot like visual analytics to me. Another recent event was the movie Moneyball, telling the story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics baseball team whose manager, Billy Beane played by Brad Pitt, used extensive, often visual, data analytics to assemble a competitive baseball team consisting of mostly low-cost players. Of course, we as visual computing researchers knew the power of visual data analysis all along, but what I take away from these two main-stream media events is that visual computing has clearly reached the public stage. Moneyball shows that visual data analysis is useful and even cool, not only thanks to Brad Pitt using it, and the NYT comments indicate that there is high public awareness for it. I find that this opens a number of great opportunities, enumerated next.

Draw in vital young talent: We can use these (and other) examples to recruit young researchers to the field of visual computing – just like computer games and animated movies have attracted and still attract new graphics talent. In fact, can we design games and apps that make visual computing fun and entertaining similar to computer games with high-end graphics? Also, I see healthy competition as a key factor for pushing young talent to reach the highest levels, and so I would actively pursue efforts that complement our existing mentoring doctoral colloquia by (1) an annual dissertation award for the best theses in visual computing, and (2) a VGTC young-researcher-to-watch-list to showcase new talent.
Seed interest at the high-school level: For this, we need to provide high school teachers with educational material that they can use in their classes. Apart from visual computing game apps, we can post slide presentations for educators on the VGTC website and link youtube videos. In fact, the companion videos often submitted to our conferences already have tremendous educational value, and we could supplement these with material collected in special conference workshops dedicated to this purpose.
Create symbiotic partnerships with industry and other communities: We have routinely organized workshops and symposia that linked our field with others, such as recently biology, healthcare, text analysis, security, large data, haptics, art, just to name a few. Being a multi-disciplinary researcher myself I would like to foster these types of activities by all means. And in addition, I would like to promote the organization of panels with members from outside communities, as well as industry, to discuss existing challenges, opportunities for research and technology transfer, emerging topics, and future directions.
Unify our own communities: Visual computing in itself is very diverse, involving visualization of various sorts, visual analytics, user interfaces, virtual and augmented reality. Our community is also very international with members from all five continents. The VGTC must embrace all community members equally and leverage their diversity. To accomplish this I would, for example, work on expanding our VGTC website into a lively portal for information exchange within all our sub-communities and beyond.
Boost public awareness: With smart phones and tablet computers becoming ubiquitous, so do graphical representations. We can exploit and boost this visual literacy by developing apps specifically targeted to visual computing. In order to encourage this type of research I would call for specific workshops and also an annual Best Visual Computing App Award. On the other hand, as is well known, success stories for visual computing are not only useful to raise public awareness – they also allow program managers of funding agencies to raise more funds for grant opportunities. For this purpose, I would expand our VGTC website to feature a forum for success stories and also install an award for Success Story of the Year.
Of course, if elected, I could not do this alone. I would henceforth invite anyone with a passion for community work to join me in the mission to make VGTC the greatest technical committee on earth. :-)


Klaus Mueller is a tenured Associate Professor of Computer Science at Stony Brook University. He received a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Ulm, Germany, and an MS in Biomedical Engineering and a PhD in Computer Science, both from The Ohio State University. He also holds co-appointments in the Biomedical Engineering and Radiology Departments at Stony Brook University. He has published over 140 peer-reviewed papers, 6 book chapters and 4 co-edited books in a diverse span of research areas: medical and scientific visualization, information visualization and visual analytics, immersive visualization, visual perception, GPU high-performance computing, filter theory, medical image reconstruction, and computational fluid simulation. His work has been cited more than 3,000 times, according to Google Scholar. He won the NSF CAREER award in 2001 and the SUNY Chancellor Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activity in 2011. He has co-taught 19 tutorials at major international conferences on various visualization and medical imaging topics. He has served for IEEE Visualization in various leading roles: as Applications track co-chair in 2003 and 2004, as Tutorials co-chair in 2005 and 2006, as conference co-chair in 2009 and 2010, and as papers co-chair in 2011 and now 2012. He also served as program-, conference-, or workshop chair at 8 other occasions for major international venues. He is currently an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics and has served as a program committee member at numerous international conferences, such as Eurovis, Pacific Vis, Visual Analytics Science and Technology (VAST), Visualization, Point-based Graphics, Volume Graphics, and High Performance Image Reconstruction. He is a senior member of the IEEE and the IEEE Computer Society. For more information, see