Detecting critical points in 2D scalar field ensembles using Bayesian inference

TitleDetecting critical points in 2D scalar field ensembles using Bayesian inference
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsVietinghoff, Dominik, Böttinger Michael, Scheuermann Gerik, and Heine Christian
Conference Name2022 IEEE 15th Pacific Visualization Symposium (PacificVis)
Date PublishedApril
AbstractIn an era of quickly growing data set sizes, information reduction methods such as extracting or highlighting characteristic features become more and more important for data analysis. For single scalar fields, topological methods can fill this role by extracting and relating critical points. While such methods are regularly employed to study single scalar fields, it is less well studied how they can be extended to uncertain data, as produced, e.g., by ensemble simulations. Motivated by our previous work on visualization in climate research, we study new methods to characterize critical points in ensembles of 2D scalar fields. Previous work on this topic either assumed or required specific distributions, did not account for uncertainty introduced by approximating the underlying latent distributions by a finite number of fields, or did not allow to answer all our domain experts' questions. In this work, we use Bayesian inference to estimate the probability of critical points, either of the original ensemble or its bootstrapped mean. This does not make any assumptions on the underlying distribution and allows to estimate the sensitivity of the results to finite-sample approximations of the underlying distribution. We use color mapping to depict these probabilities and the stability of their estimation. The resulting images can, e.g., be used to estimate how precise the critical points of the mean-field are. We apply our method to synthetic data to validate its theoretical properties and compare it with other methods in this regard. We also apply our method to the data from our previous work, where it provides a more accurate answer to the domain experts' research questions.