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Scientific visualization

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Scientific visualization is the graphical representation of scientific data using computers and in particular techniques from computer graphics. In fact, scientific visualization developed as a separate field of research from computer graphics in the 1980s[1].

Application Domains

Scientific Visualization vs. Information Visualization

Recently there is some discussion about the scope of scientific visualization. The most controversial part of this discussion is the difference between the fields of scientific visualization and information visualization. While it is argued that both fields are in fact two names for the same field, there are also several reasons that suggest a distinction. These are easily observed when comparing the research papers appearing at the conferences of the two fields. In the information visualization, applications come mainly from the data mining, networks and graph drawing area. The scientific visualization is mostly concerned with data from the natural and life sciences. Flow visualization, weather maps and the rendering of MRI data from medical research are good examples.

A possible distinctive criterion thus may be that the data for scientific visualization has some connection to a spatial position, while information visualization treats more abstract types of data.


  1. McCormick, B.H., T.A. DeFanti, M.D. Brown (ed), Visualization in Scientific Computing, Computer Graphics Vol. 21, No. 6, November 1987.