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I am a PhD candidate (ABD) at the University of Utah. Here's a copy of my CV. My current research interest is in the fields of information visualization and human-computer interaction. I also have a keen interest in undergraduate education, and have taught a number of courses while still a grad student. My graduate committee chair is Richard Riesenfeld.

Quick Links:
My Curriculum Vitae
Tools for Demographic Analysis
Visual Query Languages
Interactive Fan Charts
History of Computing
Computer Science Education
Network Intrusion Detection
Video Game Restoration/Preservation
Gestural Interfaces for 3D Graphics
Terrain Visualization


Tools for Demographic Analysis

Screenshot of SQiRL software Presented at the IEEE Information Visualization Conference 2008.
Surveys and opinion polls are extremely popular in the media, especially in the months preceding a general election. However, the available tools for analyzing poll results often require specialized training. Hence, data analysis remains out of reach for many casual computer users. Moreover, the visualizations used to communicate the results of surveys are typically limited to traditional statistical graphics like bar graphs and pie charts, both of which are fundamentally noninteractive. We present a simple interactive visualization that allows users to construct queries on large tabular data sets, and view the results in real time. The results of two separate user studies suggest that our interface lowers the learning curve for naive users, while still providing enough analytical power to discover interesting correlations in the data.
Read the paper | Watch a demo video (QuickTime format) | Read the University of Utah Press Release

Visual Query Languages

Screenshot of Manager's Dartboard software Presented at the 2nd Annual Visual and Iconic Language Conference.
We introduce an interactive radial query language for simplifying the task of searching for and identifying subtle correlations within a data set. Our approach allows the user to select which entities to show relationships for, thus decreasing the cognitive overload associated with static chart-based representations. We likewise present a compact visual metaphor for comparing the differences between two versions of a chart. We have also implemented an intuitive gesture-based interface for creating and removing links between entities, thus enabling users to edit data, not just view it. Our preliminary user trial suggests that users can discover correlations significantly more quickly and accurately with our method as compared to traditional chart representations.
Read the paper | Download a demo video (QuickTime format)

Interactive Fan Charts

Screenshot of interactive fan chart prototype Presented at the 2008 Workshop on Technology for Family History and Genealogical Research.
Fan charts are a popular method for visualizing family trees, due perhaps in part to their aesthetic appeal as well as their compact appearance relative to the more common tree-based pedigree chart. Although fan charts are easy to understand, they do not necessarily make optimal use of the available space. Thus, we propose the interactive fan chart: a radial graph in which nodes can be selectively expanded or collapsed so that a greater proportion of the available space is dynamically allocated to nodes of current interest. In addition, we introduce a number of interactive techniques that elevate fan charts from a static display medium into a tool for real-time data browsing and exploration.
Read the paper | Try the online demo | Download the source code

History of Computing

Photograph of a DEC PDP-11 The progress of computing technology in the last five decades has been nothing short of miraculous. However, in some ways, computer science has progressed very little. If we are not familiar with the history of computer science, including why certain decisions were made and what the consequences were, we may mistakenly think that “it's always been this way” — or worse yet, that “it has to be this way.” Either one of these beliefs only stifles future innovation in computing. As a proactive step to reverse this trend, I developed and taught a new senior-level undergraduate course for Spring 2008 entitled History of Electronic Computing. However, it is not a “history class” in the traditional sense of the term. My purpose in this course is not simply to present an exhaustive review of all computers, but to give students the opportunity to think critically about where the industry has been, and to challenge their assumptions about where it can go in the future — under their leadership.
CS 4960 course web site

Computer Science Education

A mascot I drew for my CS 1021 class Education and entertainment are more closely related than we often suppose. I believe in a fun, hands-on approach to computer science education, using humorous in-class demonstrations and creative assignments to keep students engaged. Students flourish when given individual attention, so I try to meet with my students one-on-one as much as possible. During the summer of 2007, I taught two introductory programming courses in the University of Utah's School of Computing, one in C++ and the other in Java.
CS 1020 course web site | CS 1021 course web site | Read my students' course evaluations

Network Intrusion Detection

Screenshot of VisAlert We present a novel paradigm for visual correlation of network alerts from disparate logs. This paradigm facilitates and promotes situational awareness in complex network environments. Our approach is based on the notion that, by definition, an alert must possess three attributes, namely: what, when, and where. This fundamental premise, which we term w3, provides a vehicle for comparing between seemingly disparate events. Users gain further understanding by displaying the temporal distribution of alerts to reveal complex attack trends. Finally, we propose a set of visual metaphor extensions that augment the proposed paradigm and enhance users' situational awareness. These metaphors direct the attention of users to many-to-one correlations within the current display, helping them detect abnormal network activity.
Read the IAS '05 paper | Read the InfoVis '05 paper

Video Game Restoration/Preservation

Screenshot of Milk Room in Thirsty Nellan Over the past three decades, hobbyist programmers have created a wealth of computer games for a variety of platforms. Unfortunately, many of these games are now forgotten — not because they weren't high quality, but because the platforms for which they were originally written are no longer in common use. Emulators and virtual machines provide only a partial solution. Indeed, the surest way to preserve old games for future audiences is to rewrite them entirely. I therefore present Thirsty Nellan, a re-make of the 8-bit text adventure “Nellan is Thirsty,” now rewritten for modern platforms. The new version makes this classic game accessible to a whole new audience, while remaining faithful to the storyline of the original.
Read the Linux Journal article | Download the game

Gestural Interfaces for 3D Graphics

Screenshot of Freddy prototype Presented at Graphics Interface 2003.
We introduce Freddy, a gesture-based user interface to Free-Form Deformation (FFD). Traditional interfaces for FFD require the manipulation of individual points in a lattice of control vertices, a process which is both time-consuming and error-prone. In our system, the user can bend, twist, and stretch/squash the model as if it were a solid piece of clay without being unduly burdened by the mathematical details of FFD. We provide the user with a small but powerful set of gesture-based “ink stroke” commands that are invoked simply by drawing them on the screen. The system automatically infers the userís intention from the stroke and deforms the model without any vertex-specific input from the user. Both the stroke recognition and FFD algorithms are executed in real-time on a standard PC.
Read the paper | Download a demo video (QuickTime format) | Interactive Demo | Download Freddy | Read my Master's Thesis

Terrain Visualization

Screenshot of a fly-through over BYU campus Consider a six-gigabyte geographic database of the Wasatch front which, due to limitations in the elevation data, shows all the buildings as flat, not rising up at all from the ground. This artifact is not noticeable when performing high-altitude fly-bys, but is unsuitable for close-range walkthroughs. We have devised an automated system to extrude buildings of any height from the otherwise flat terrain. Users can interactively select areas on the terrain where they wish to add buildings, and then our system generates a new version of the landscape, complete with full-size three-dimensional buildings at the chosen locations.
Read the paper

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