Staff within the Department of Computer Science have research interests in Visualization, Interaction & Computer Graphics (with a particular focus on Medical Graphics), Cyber Security and Discrete Optimisation.

Recent Submissions

  • Swarm Communication by Evolutionary Algorithms

    Vaughan, Neil; University of Chester (IEEE, 2018-05-27)
    This research has applied evolutionary algorithms to evolve swarm communication. Controllers were evolved for colonies of artificial simulated ants during a food foriaging task which communicate using pheromone. Neuroevolution enables both weights and the topology of the artificial neural networks to be optimized for food foriaging. The developed model results in evolution of ants which communicate using pheromone trails. The ants successfully collect and return food to the nest. The controller has evolved to adjust the strength of pheromone which provides a signal to guide the direction of other ants in the colony by hill climbing strategy. A single ANN controller for ant direction successfully evolved which exhibits many separate skills including food search, pheromone following, food collection and retrieval to the nest.
  • Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning for Swarm Retrieval with Evolving Neural Network

    Vaughan, Neil; Royal Academy of Engineering; University of Chester (Springer-Verlag,, 2018-07-07)
    This research investigates methods for evolving swarm communica-tion in a sim-ulated colony of ants using pheromone when foriaging for food. This research implemented neuroevolution and obtained the capability to learn phero-mone communication autonomously. Building on previous literature on phero-mone communication, this research applies evolution to adjust the topology and weights of an artificial neural network (ANN) which controls the ant behaviour. Compar-ison of performance is made between a hard-coded benchmark algorithm (BM1), a fixed topology ANN and neuroevolution of the ANN topology and weights. The resulting neuroevolution produced a neural network which was suc-cessfully evolved to achieve the task objective, to collect food and return it to a location.
  • An Information-Theoretic Approach to the Cost-benefit Analysis of Visualization in Virtual Environments

    Chen, Min; Gaither, Kelly; John, Nigel; McCann, Brian; University of Oxford; University of Texas at Austin; University of Chester (IEEE, 2018-08-20)
    Visualization and virtual environments (VEs) have been two interconnected parallel strands in visual computing for decades. Some VEs have been purposely developed for visualization applications, while many visualization applications are exemplary showcases in general-purpose VEs. Because of the development and operation costs of VEs, the majority of visualization applications in practice have yet to benefit from the capacity of VEs. In this paper, we examine this status quo from an information-theoretic perspective. Our objectives are to conduct cost-benefit analysis on typical VE systems (including augmented and mixed reality, theatre-based systems, and large powerwalls), to explain why some visualization applications benefit more from VEs than others, and to sketch out pathways for the future development of visualization applications in VEs. We support our theoretical propositions and analysis using theories and discoveries in the literature of cognitive sciences and the practical evidence reported in the literatures of visualization and VEs.
  • Thermophoresis effect on the free convective flow in a differentially heated square cavity

    Pop, Serban R.; Grosan, Teodor; University of Chester; Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj Napoca (Begell House, 2015)
    A numerical analysis is made for thermophoretic transport of small particles through the convective flow in a differentially heated square cavity. The governing gas-particle partial differential equations are solved numerically for some values of the considered parameters to investigate their influence on the flow, heat, and mass transfer patterns. It is found that the effect of thermophoresis can be quite significant in appropriate situations.
  • Quantification of the pressures generated during insertion of an epidural needle in labouring women of varying body mass indices

    Wee, M. Y. K.; Isaacs, R.; Vaughan, Neil; Dubey, V. N.; Parker, B.; University of Chester; Bournemouth University; Poole Hospital NHS Trust; West Hertfordshire NHS Trust; Southampton University Hospital (Heighten Science Publications, 2017-12-01)
    Objective: The primary aim of this study was to measure pressure generated on a Tuohy needle during the epidural procedure in labouring women of varying body mass indices (BMI) with a view of utilising the data for the future development of a high fi delity epidural simulator. High-fi delity epidural simulators have a role in improving training and safety but current simulators lack a realistic experience and can be improved. Methods: This study was approved by the National Research Ethics Service Committee South Central, Portsmouth (REC reference 11/SC/0196). After informed consent epidural needle insertion pressure was measured using a Portex 16-gauge Tuohy needle, loss-of-resistance syringe, a three-way tap, pressure transducer and a custom-designed wireless transmitter. This was performed in four groups of labouring women, stratified according to BMI kg/m2: 18-24.9; 25-34.9; 35-44.9 and >=45. One-way ANOVA was used to compare difference in needle insertion pressure between the BMI groups. A paired t-test was performed between BMI group 18-24.9 and the three other BMI groups. Ultrasound images of the lumbar spine were undertaken prior to the epidural procedure and lumbar magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed within 72h post-delivery. These images will be used in the development of a high fi delity epidural simulator. Results: The mean epidural needle insertion pressure of labouring women with BMI 18-24.9 was 461mmHg; BMI 25-34.9 was 430mmHg; BMI 35-44.9 was 415mmHg and BMI >=45 was 376mmHg, (p=0.52). Conclusion: Although statistically insignifi cant, the study did show a decreasing trend of epidural insertion pressure with increasing body mass indices.
  • Double-diffusive natural convection in a differentially heated wavy cavity under thermophoresis effect

    Grosan, Teodor; Sheremet, Mikhail A.; Pop, Ioan; Pop, Serban R.; Babes-Bolyai University; Tomsk State University; University of Chester (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2018-02-28)
    A numerical analysis is made for thermophoretic transport of small particles through the convection in a differentially heated square cavity with a wavy wall. The governing gas-particle partial differential equations are solved numerically for some values of the considered parameters to investigate their influence on the flow, heat, and mass transfer patterns. It is found that the effect of thermophoresis can be quite significant in appropriate situations. The number of undualtions can essentially modify the heat transfer rate and fluid flow intensity.
  • Morphogenetic Engineering For Evolving Ant Colony Pheromone Communication

    Vaughan, Neil; University of Chester (The Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation for Behaviour (AISB), 2018-04-06)
    This research investigates methods for evolving swarm communication in a simulated colony of ants using pheromone when foriaging for food. This research implemented neuroevolution and obtained the capability to learn pheromone communication autonomously. Building on previous literature on pheromone communication, this research applies evolution to adjust the topology and weights of an artificial neural network which controls the ant behaviour. Comparison of performance is made between a hard-coded benchmark algorithm, a fixed topology ANN and neuroevolution of the ANN topology and weights. The resulting neuroevolution produced a neural network which was successfully evolved to achieve the task objective, to collect food and return it to the nest.
  • How effective is Ant Colony Optimisation at Robot Path Planning

    Wolfenden, A.; Vaughan, Neil; University of Chester (The Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation for Behaviour (AISB), 2018-04-06)
    This project involves investigation of the problem robot path planning using ant colony optimisation heuristics to construct the quickest path from the starting point to the end. The project has developed a simulation that successfully simulates as well as demonstrates visually through a graphical user interface, robot path planning using ant colony optimisation. The simulation shows an ability to traverse an unknown environment from a start point to an end and successfully construct a route for others to follow both when the terrain is dynamic and static
  • Associating Colours with Emotions Detected in Social Media Tweets

    Harvey, R.; Muncey, A.; Vaughan, N.; University of Chester (The Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation for Behaviour (AISB), 2018-04-06)
    This project involves two major areas of work, the detection of emotions in text from Twitter posts (tweets), and the association of that emotion with colour. Emotion mining is the field of natural language processing which is concerned with the detection and classification. It is a subfield of semantic analysis which contains both emotion and opinion mining. Both tasks depend on an emotion model to classify detected emotions and to associate a colour depending on the location of the emotion in the model. This research paper demonstrates preliminary results from classification of tweets to assign emotion labels. Also designs are presented for a prototype web interface for displaying the assigned colour and emotion associated with tweets.
  • SLAM-based dense surface reconstruction in monocular Minimally Invasive Surgery and its application to Augmented Reality

    Chen, Long; Tang, Wen; John, Nigel W.; Wan, Tao R.; Zhang, Jian J.; Bournemouth University; University of Chester; University of Bradford (Elsevier, 2018-02-08)
    Background and Objective While Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) offers considerable benefits to patients, it also imposes big challenges on a surgeon's performance due to well-known issues and restrictions associated with the field of view (FOV), hand-eye misalignment and disorientation, as well as the lack of stereoscopic depth perception in monocular endoscopy. Augmented Reality (AR) technology can help to overcome these limitations by augmenting the real scene with annotations, labels, tumour measurements or even a 3D reconstruction of anatomy structures at the target surgical locations. However, previous research attempts of using AR technology in monocular MIS surgical scenes have been mainly focused on the information overlay without addressing correct spatial calibrations, which could lead to incorrect localization of annotations and labels, and inaccurate depth cues and tumour measurements. In this paper, we present a novel intra-operative dense surface reconstruction framework that is capable of providing geometry information from only monocular MIS videos for geometry-aware AR applications such as site measurements and depth cues. We address a number of compelling issues in augmenting a scene for a monocular MIS environment, such as drifting and inaccurate planar mapping. Methods A state-of-the-art Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM) algorithm used in robotics has been extended to deal with monocular MIS surgical scenes for reliable endoscopic camera tracking and salient point mapping. A robust global 3D surface reconstruction framework has been developed for building a dense surface using only unorganized sparse point clouds extracted from the SLAM. The 3D surface reconstruction framework employs the Moving Least Squares (MLS) smoothing algorithm and the Poisson surface reconstruction framework for real time processing of the point clouds data set. Finally, the 3D geometric information of the surgical scene allows better understanding and accurate placement AR augmentations based on a robust 3D calibration. Results We demonstrate the clinical relevance of our proposed system through two examples: a) measurement of the surface; b) depth cues in monocular endoscopy. The performance and accuracy evaluations of the proposed framework consist of two steps. First, we have created a computer-generated endoscopy simulation video to quantify the accuracy of the camera tracking by comparing the results of the video camera tracking with the recorded ground-truth camera trajectories. The accuracy of the surface reconstruction is assessed by evaluating the Root Mean Square Distance (RMSD) of surface vertices of the reconstructed mesh with that of the ground truth 3D models. An error of 1.24mm for the camera trajectories has been obtained and the RMSD for surface reconstruction is 2.54mm, which compare favourably with previous approaches. Second, in vivo laparoscopic videos are used to examine the quality of accurate AR based annotation and measurement, and the creation of depth cues. These results show the potential promise of our geometry-aware AR technology to be used in MIS surgical scenes. Conclusions The results show that the new framework is robust and accurate in dealing with challenging situations such as the rapid endoscopy camera movements in monocular MIS scenes. Both camera tracking and surface reconstruction based on a sparse point cloud are eff active and operated in real-time. This demonstrates the potential of our algorithm for accurate AR localization and depth augmentation with geometric cues and correct surface measurements in MIS with monocular endoscopes.
  • Comparing and combining time series trajectories using Dynamic Time Warping

    Vaughan, Neil; Gabrys, Bogdan; Bournemouth University (Elsevier, 2016-09-04)
    This research proposes the application of dynamic time warping (DTW) algorithm to analyse multivariate data from virtual reality training simulators, to assess the skill level of trainees. We present results of DTW algorithm applied to trajectory data from a virtual reality haptic training simulator for epidural needle insertion. The proposed application of DTW algorithm serves two purposes, to enable (i) two trajectories to be compared as a similarity measure and also enables (ii) two or more trajectories to be combined together to produce a typical or representative average trajectory using a novel hierarchical DTW process. Our experiments included 100 expert and 100 novice simulator recordings. The data consists of multivariate time series data-streams including multi-dimensional trajectories combined with force and pressure measurements. Our results show that our proposed application of DTW provides a useful time-independent method for (i) comparing two trajectories by providing a similarity measure and (ii) combining two or more trajectories into one, showing higher performance compared to conventional methods such as linear mean. These results demonstrate that DTW can be useful within virtual reality training simulators to provide a component in an automated scoring and assessment feedback system.
  • Haptic feedback from human tissues of various stiffness and homogeneity.

    Vaughan, Neil; Dubey, Venketesh N.; Wee, Michael Y. K.; Isaacs, Richard; Bournemouth University; Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Techno-Press, 2014-07-01)
    This work presents methods for haptic modelling of soft and hard tissue with varying stiffness. The model provides visualization of deformation and calculates force feedback during simulated epidural needle insertion. A spring-mass-damper (SMD) network is configured from magnetic resonance image (MRI) slices of patient’s lumbar region to represent varying stiffness throughout tissue structure. Reaction force is calculated from the SMD network and a haptic device is configured to produce a needle insertion simulation. The user can feel the changing forces as the needle is inserted through tissue layers and ligaments. Methods for calculating the force feedback at various depths of needle insertion are presented. Voxelization is used to fill ligament surface meshes with spring mass damper assemblies for simulated needle insertion into soft and hard tissues. Modelled vertebrae cannot be pierced by the needle. Graphs were produced during simulated needle insertions to compare the applied force to haptic reaction force. Preliminary saline pressure measurements during Tuohy epidural needle insertion are also used as a basis for forces generated in the simulation.
  • Device to accurately place Epidural Tuohy needle for Anesthesia Administration

    Vaughan, Neil; Dubey, Venketesh N.; Wee, Michael Y. K.; Isaacs, Richard; Bournemouth University; Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Copernicus Publications, 2014-01-02)
    The aim of this project is to design two sterile devices for epidural needle insertion which can measure in real time (i) the depth of needle tip during insertion and (ii) interspinous pressure changes through a pressure measurement device as the epidural needle is advanced through the tissue layers. The length measurement device uses a small wireless camera with video processing computer algorithms which can detect and measure the moving needle. The pressure measurement device uses entirely sterile componenets including a pressure transducer to accurately measure syringe saline in mm Hg. The data from these two devices accurately describe a needle insertion allowing comparison or review of insertions. The data was then cross-referenced to pre-measured data from MRI or ultrasound scan to identify how ligemant thickness correlates to our measured depth and pressure data. The developed devices have been tested on a porcine specimen during insertions performed by experienced anaesthetists. We have obtained epidural pressures for each ligament and demonstrated functionality of our devices to measure pressure and depth of epidural needle during insertion. This has not previously been possible to monitor in real-time. The benefits of these devices are (i) to provide an alternative method to identify correct needle placement during the procedure on real patients. (ii) The data describing the speed, depth and pressure during insertion can be used to configure an epidural simulator, simulating the needle insertion procedure. (iii) Our pressure and depth data can be compared to pre-measured MRI and ultrasound to identify previously unknown links between epidural pressure and depth with BMI, obesity and body shapes.
  • Parametric model of human body shape and ligaments for patient-specific epidural simulation

    Vaughan, Neil; Dubey, Venketesh N.; Wee, Michael Y. K.; Isaacs, Richard; Bournemouth University; Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Elsevier, 2014-09-04)
    Objective: This work builds upon the concept of matching a person’s weight, height and age to their overall body shape to create an adjustable three-dimensional model. A versatile and accurate predictor of body size and shape and ligament thickness is required to improve simulation for medical procedures. A model which is adjustable for any size, shape, body mass, age or height would provide ability to simulate procedures on patients of various body compositions. Methods: Three methods are provided for estimating body circumferences and ligament thicknesses for each patient. The first method is using empirical relations from body shape and size. The second method is to load a dataset from a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) or ultrasound scan containing accurate ligament measurements. The third method is a developed artificial neural network (ANN) which uses MRI dataset as a training set and improves accuracy using error back-propagation, which learns to increase accuracy as more patient data is added. The ANN is trained and tested with clinical data from 23088 patients. Results: The ANN can predict subscapular skinfold thickness within 3.54mm, waist circumference 3.92cm, thigh circumference 2.00cm, arm circumference 1.21cm, calf circumference 1.40cm, triceps skinfold thickness 3.43mm. Alternative regression analysis method gave overall slightly less accurate predictions for subscapular skinfold thickness within 3.75mm, waist circumference 3.84cm, thigh circumference 2.16cm, arm circumference 1.34cm, calf circumference 1.46cm, triceps skinfold thickness 3.89mm. These calculations are used to display a 3D graphics model of the patient’s body shape using OpenGL and adjusted by 3D mesh deformations. Conclusions: A patient-specific epidural simulator is presented using the developed body shape model, able to simulate needle insertion procedures on a 3D model of any patient size and shape. The developed ANN gave the most accurate results for body shape, size and ligament thickness. The resulting simulator offers the experience of simulating needle insertions accurately whilst allowing for variation in patient body mass, height or age.
  • Traversing social networks in the virtual dance hall: visualizing history in VR

    Southall, Helen; Beever, Lee; Butcher, Peter; University of Chester (IEEE Conference Publications, 2017-09-20)
    Digital recreations of historical sites and events are important tools both for academic researchers and for public interpretation. Current 3D visualization and VR technologies enable these recreations to be increasingly immersive and engaging. This poster describes a case study based on a mid-twentieth century Chester dance hall, examining the possibilities and limitations of 3D VR for recreating a public music venue which no longer physically exists, and also for visualizing and analyzing the professional network of musicians who played there, and at many other local venues.
  • Building Immersive Data Visualizations for the Web

    Butcher, Peter; Ritsos, Panagiotis; University of Chester; Bangor University (IEEE Conference Publications, 2017-09)
    We present our early work on building prototype applications for Immersive Analytics using emerging standards-based web technologies for VR. For our preliminary investigations we visualize 3D bar charts that attempt to resemble recent physical visualizations built in the visualization community. We explore some of the challenges faced by developers in working with emerging VR tools for the web, and in building effective and informative immersive 3D visualizations.
  • Using Virtual Reality to Experience Different Powered Wheelchair Configurations

    Day, Thomas; Headleand, Christopher; Pop, Serban; John, Nigel; Dobson, William; University of Chester, University of Lincoln (2017-09)
    This paper presents recent additions to our Wheelchair-VR application, in particular the use of different drive configurations. We have previously shown that Wheelchair-VR can be used to improve driving skills. Here we consider the utility of the application in allowing users who are in the process of purchasing or upgrading a wheelchair to experience different configurations and options in a cost-effective virtual environment. A preliminary study is presented, which suggests that this approach can be effective.
  • Wheelchair-MR: A Mixed Reality Wheelchair Training Environment

    Day, Thomas; University of Chester (2017-09-20)
    In previous work we have demonstrated that Virtual Reality can be used to help train driving skills for users of a powered wheelchair. However, cybersickness was a particular problem. This work-in-progress paper presents a Mixed Reality alternative to our wheelchair training software, which overcomes this problem. The design and implementation of this application is discussed. Early results shows some promise and overcomes the cybersickness issue. More work is needed before a larger scale study can be undertaken.
  • Parametric model of human body shape and ligaments for patient-specific epidural simulation

    Vaughan N, Dubey VN, Wee MYK, Isaacs R.; Bournemouth University, Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Elsevier, 2014-10-01)
    Objective This work is to build upon the concept of matching a person's weight, height and age to their overall body shape to create an adjustable three-dimensional model. A versatile and accurate predictor of body size and shape and ligament thickness is required to improve simulation for medical procedures. A model which is adjustable for any size, shape, body mass, age or height would provide ability to simulate procedures on patients of various body compositions. Methods Three methods are provided for estimating body circumferences and ligament thicknesses for each patient. The first method is using empirical relations from body shape and size. The second method is to load a dataset from a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or ultrasound scan containing accurate ligament measurements. The third method is a developed artificial neural network (ANN) which uses MRI dataset as a training set and improves accuracy using error back-propagation, which learns to increase accuracy as more patient data is added. The ANN is trained and tested with clinical data from 23,088 patients. Results The ANN can predict subscapular skinfold thickness within 3.54 mm, waist circumference 3.92 cm, thigh circumference 2.00 cm, arm circumference 1.21 cm, calf circumference 1.40 cm, triceps skinfold thickness 3.43 mm. Alternative regression analysis method gave overall slightly less accurate predictions for subscapular skinfold thickness within 3.75 mm, waist circumference 3.84 cm, thigh circumference 2.16 cm, arm circumference 1.34 cm, calf circumference 1.46 cm, triceps skinfold thickness 3.89 mm. These calculations are used to display a 3D graphics model of the patient's body shape using OpenGL and adjusted by 3D mesh deformations. Conclusions A patient-specific epidural simulator is presented using the developed body shape model, able to simulate needle insertion procedures on a 3D model of any patient size and shape. The developed ANN gave the most accurate results for body shape, size and ligament thickness. The resulting simulator offers the experience of simulating needle insertions accurately whilst allowing for variation in patient body mass, height or age.
  • Real-time Geometry-Aware Augmented Reality in Minimally Invasive Surgery

    Chen, Long; Tang, Wen; John, Nigel W.; Bournemouth University; University of Chester (IET, 2017-10-27)
    The potential of Augmented Reality (AR) technology to assist minimally invasive surgeries (MIS) lies in its computational performance and accuracy in dealing with challenging MIS scenes. Even with the latest hardware and software technologies, achieving both real-time and accurate augmented information overlay in MIS is still a formidable task. In this paper, we present a novel real-time AR framework for MIS that achieves interactive geometric aware augmented reality in endoscopic surgery with stereo views. Our framework tracks the movement of the endoscopic camera and simultaneously reconstructs a dense geometric mesh of the MIS scene. The movement of the camera is predicted by minimising the re-projection error to achieve a fast tracking performance, while the 3D mesh is incrementally built by a dense zero mean normalised cross correlation stereo matching method to improve the accuracy of the surface reconstruction. Our proposed system does not require any prior template or pre-operative scan and can infer the geometric information intra-operatively in real-time. With the geometric information available, our proposed AR framework is able to interactively add annotations, localisation of tumours and vessels, and measurement labelling with greater precision and accuracy compared with the state of the art approaches.

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