3D shock wave visualization on unstructured grids

Kwan-Liu Ma, John Van Rosendale, Willem Vermeer

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

45 Scopus citations


A critical issue in understanding high speed flows is the study of shock waves. This paper summarizes our research on techniques for the detection and visualization of shock waves occuring in simulations of three-dimensional flows on unstructured grids. Detection algorithms based on Mach number, density gradient and directional derivatives are compared using a data set from calculations of a transonic flow with a weak double shock around an airfoil. Both surface and volume rendering techniques are used to display the shocks. The issues in this research area are very much like those occurring in medical imaging. Since the data themselves (in this case the results of the fluid dynamics simulation) are intrinsically low resolution and noisy, properly extracting and visualizing the shock is very difficult. In this environment blurry, low-resolution techniques, like the splatting volume rendering, seem to do rather well. More complex schemes, using sophisticated numerical shock detectors coupled with polygon rendering, produce visually sharper shocks, but also introduce `graphics artifacts,' which complicate understanding of the flow physics. On the other hand, visualization results produced with techniques like splatting are, in effect, relying more on the human visual system to compensate for limited resolution in the simulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996
Externally publishedYes
EventProceedings of the 1996 Symposium on Volume Visualization - San Francisco, CA, USA
Duration: Oct 28 1996Oct 29 1996


OtherProceedings of the 1996 Symposium on Volume Visualization
CitySan Francisco, CA, USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)


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