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IRIS Explorer(TM) Data Visualization in UK Higher Education

The Numerical Algorithms Group Ltd (NAG) has for the past 25 years been directly involved with serving the numerical and graphical computation needs of scientists and engineers in the UK Higher Education community. Historically best known for its numerical software subroutine libraries in Fortran and C, in recent years NAG has expanded its areas of expertise into a variety of other related areas including computer algebra and, most recently, into data visualization with the IRIS Explorer product. Now NAG has cemented its links to academia by establishing an IRIS Explorer Centre of Excellence at the University of Leeds and is offering the IRIS Explorer software at very favourable terms to the education community with an agreement through the Combined Higher Education Software Team (CHEST). IRIS Explorer is a visual programming system for data visualization, animation, manipulation and analysis, designed for scientists and engineers to create applications for displaying and analysing complex multi-dimensional datasets interactively - often without any programming at all. Based on Open Inventor(tm) and OpenGL(r) and featuring state-of-the-art 3D graphics including zoom, rotate, highlight and reconfigure, IRIS Explorer is supplied with custom application development tools. Originally developed by Silicon Graphics Inc (SGI), IRIS Explorer has now been unbundled from IRIX and NAG has ported it to a variety of popular UNIX and Windows NT platforms.

An IRIS Explorer Centre of Excellence providing a focus for research and development linked to the IRIS Explorer data visualization and application builder software, has just been established at the University of Leeds in the UK. The aim of the Centre is to act as a focus for research and development linked to IRIS Explorer, to provide innovative extensions to the software, as well as user focused activity such as the provision of online training materials and a repository of user-contributed modules available for general use. The Centre, which is directed by Dr Ken Brodlie of the School of Computer Studies, is a joint initiative between the University and NAG Ltd, which complements the work of the IRIS Explorer Centres at NAG in Oxford, Chicago and Tokyo.

The Centre is particularly concerned with the development of IRIS Explorer and the World Wide Web and a current project relates to JAVA and VRML (Virtual Reality Modelling Language). The JAVA project is a study of how best to make use of JAVA to write IRIS Explorer modules, which would potentially allow JAVA code, sited at any location on the Internet, to be dynamically incorporated within an IRIS Explorer map. The VRML project is a study of how to exploit VRML in conjunction with IRIS Explorer, where for example, the functionality of IRIS Explorer's Render module is extended to generate a VRML representation of the current scene.

The Centre will become the repository of user contributed IRIS Explorer modules, and already there are links to sites which offer IRIS Explorer modules for downloading, including modules developed at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, University of Princeton, USA and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory USA. The Princeton modules include 48 IRIS Explorer modules used to support atmospheric and oceanographic research, though most are quite suitable for any application. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has contributed a suite of modules for flow visualization, related to the concept of flow volumes for unsteady flows.

The CHEST offer to UK Education is for site licences which permit use of the IRIS Explorer software in perpetuity, but more importantly the offer includes a five year update and support programme within the stated costs. The site licence charge permits use of the products on multiple systems from the range of supported hardware.

The format of the CHEST offer contains an innovative payment profile whereby CHEST is offering an opportunity to spread the payments according to the institutions available funding via terms for either single, three year or five year terms. NAG is offering a free 30 day evaluation copy of IRIS Explorer to interested sites.

For more news from the IRIS Explorer Center of Excellence, visit its Web site at, for details of the CHEST agreement contact Robert Morrell at NAG Ltd (email: The IRIS Explorer website at NAG can be visited at

Contact details NAG Ltd:

Terry Burgess
Marketing Manager
Wilkinson House
Jordan Hill Road
Oxford, OX2 8DR

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 511245
Fax: +44 (0) 1865 310139

IRIS Explorer Centre of Excellence:

Dr Ken Brodlie
School of Computer Studies
University of Leeds
Leeds, LS2 9JT

Tel: +44 (0) 113 233 5484
Fax: +44 (0) 113 233 5468

All trademarks are acknowledged.

Rae Earnshaw