Documenting the Coming Singularity

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Power of an Algorithm - New tool enables powerful data analysis - January 8 2009

After using the algorithm to determine the filament structure of an aerogel -- a lightweight foam used in shielding electronic equipment in satellites -- the researchers were able to compute changes to its structural integrity by the simulated impact of a micrometeorite traveling at 10,000 miles per hour (red sphere on left). Image: Attila Gyulassy/UC Davis Copyright UC Regents

A powerful computing tool that allows scientists to extract features and patterns from enormously large and complex sets of raw data has been developed by scientists at University of California, Davis, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The tool - a set of problem-solving calculations known as an algorithm - is compact enough to run on computers with as little as two gigabytes of memory.

The team that developed this algorithm has already used it to probe a slew of phenomena represented by billions of data points, including analyzing and creating images of flame surfaces; searching for clusters and voids in a virtual universe experiment; and identifying and tracking pockets of fluid in a simulated mixing of two fluids.

"What we've developed is a workable system of handling any data in any dimension," said Attila Gyulassy, who led the five-year development effort while pursuing a PhD in computer science at UC Davis. "We expect this algorithm will become an integral part of a scientist's toolbox to answer questions about data."

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