Interactive Visual Analysis in Automotive Engineering Design
Computational simulation has become instrumental in the design process in automotive engineering. Virtually all components and subsystems of automobiles can be simulated. The simulation can be repeated many times with varied parameter settings, thereby simulating many possible design choices. Each simulation run can produce a complex, multivariate, and usually timedependent result data set. The engineers goal is to generate useful knowledge from those data. They need to understand the system s behavior, find correlations in the results, conclude how results depend on the parameters, find optimal parameter combinations, and exclude the ones that lead to undesired results.Computational analysis methods are widely used and necessary to analyze simulation data sets, but they are not always sufficient. They typically require that problems and interesting data features can be precisely defined from the beginning. The results of automated analysis of complex problems may be difficult to interpret. Exploring trends, patterns, relations, and dependencies in time-dependent data through statistical aggregates is not always intuitive.In this thesis, we propose techniques and methods for the interactive visual analysis (IVA) of simulation data sets. Compared to computational methods, IVA offers new and different analysis opportunities. Visual analysis utilizes human cognition and creativity, and can also incorporate the experts domain knowledge. Therefore, their insight into the data can be amplified, and also less precisely defined problems can be solved.We introduce a data model that effectively represents the multi-run, time-dependent simulation results as families of function graphs. This concept is central to the thesis, and many of the innovations in this thesis are closely related to it.We present visualization techniques for families of function graphs. Those visualizations, as well as well-known information visualization plots, are integrated into a coordinated multiple views framework. All views provide focus+context visualization. Compositions of brushes spanning several views can be defined iteratively to select interesting features and promote information drill-down. Valuable insight into the spatial aspect of the data can be gained from (generally domain-specific) spatio-temporal visualizations. In this thesis, we propose interactive, glyph-based 3D visualization techniques for the analysis of rigid and elastic multibody system simulations.We integrate the on-demand computation of derived data attributes of families of function graphs into the analysis workflow. This facilitates the selection of deeply hidden data features that cannot be specified by combinations of simple brushes on the original data attributes. The combination of these building blocks supports interactive knowledge discovery. The analyst can build a mental model of the system; explore also unexpected features and relations; and generate, verify or reject hypotheses with visual tools; thereby gaining more insight into the data. Complex tasks, such as parameter sensitivity analysis and optimization can be solved. Although the primary motivation for our work was the analysis of simulation data sets in automotive engineering, we learned that this data model and the analysis procedures we identified are also applicable to several other problem domains. We discuss common tasks in the analysis of data containing families of function graphs.Two case studies demonstrate that the proposed approach is indeed applicable to the analysis of simulation data sets in automotive engineering. Some of the contributions of this thesis have been integrated into a commercially distributed software suite for engineers. This suggests that their impact can extend beyond the visualization research community.