Efficient and Flexible Hierarchical Data Layouts for a Unified Encoding of Scalar Field Precision and Resolution

Duong Hoang, Brian Summa, Harsh Bhatia, Peter Lindstrom, Pavol Klacansky, Will Usher, Peer-Timo Bremer and Valerio Pascucci

In IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 2021.

Fig. 1: We propose a hierarchical data layout that allows for various forms of progressive decoding that modulate improvements in both precision and resolution. Each progressive decoding traces a monotonic nondecreasing curve in the precision-resolution space from the origin, 0%, to the full data, 100% (shown in (a)). Using a 900 GB turbulent channel flow field (10240×7680×1536, float64) (b), we demonstrate three approximations (c,d,e) of progressively increasing quality decoded along the curve in (a). The time to decode the data and RAM used are shown in the figure; data retrieved values are inclusive of the preceding points along the curve


To address the problem of ever-growing scientific data sizes making data movement a major hindrance to analysis, we introduce a novel encoding for scalar fields: a unified tree of resolution and precision, specifically constructed so that valid cuts correspond to sensible approximations of the original field in the precision-resolution space. Furthermore, we introduce a highly flexible encoding of such trees that forms a parameterized family of data hierarchies. We discuss how different parameter choices lead to different trade-offs in practice, and show how specific choices result in known data representation schemes such as ZFP, IDX, and JPEG2000. Finally, we provide system-level details and empirical evidence on how such hierarchies facilitate common approximate queries with minimal data movement and time, using real-world data sets ranging from a few gigabytes to nearlya terabyte in size. Experiments suggest that our new strategy of combining reductions in resolution and precision is competitive with state-of-the-art compression techniques with respect to data quality, while being significantly more flexible and orders of magnitude faster, and requiring significantly reduced resources.


  author={Hoang, Duong and Summa, Brian and Bhatia, Harsh and Lindstrom, Peter and
      Klacansky, Pavol and Usher, Will and Bremer, Peer-Timo and Pascucci, Valerio},
  journal={{IEEE} {Transactions} on {Visualization} and {Computer} {Graphics}},
  title={{Efficient} and {Flexible} {Hierarchical} {Data} {Layouts} for a
      {Unified} {Encoding} of {Scalar} {Field} {Precision} and {Resolution}},