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Superconductor: first step of a programming language to tell stories from big data


Posted on Monday, January 14th 2013

Researchers from University of Berkeley published in December a first article about their research to create a data visualization programming language for big data.



Leo Meyerovich and Matthew Torok lead this team. They just published a two-pages abstract of their work, and this short explanation video including a demo. Microsoft and Intel have financed this research project with other financial contributions coming from Parallel Computing Laboratory partners like National Instruments, Nokia, Nvidia, Oracle and Samsung.

Leo Meyerovich and Matthew Torok underline first that data growth seems perpetual but that data visualization tools and techniques didn’t develop at the same scale. Today “Designers must choose between scale and interactivity.
They created Supraconductor to be the first programming language to fit “the three design goals [they] distilled from popular visualization languages:
- Scale: from thousands to millions of data points;
- Interactivity: response time to user interaction should be 100ms or less; and animations should generate 30 fps. With these characteristics, it could definitively be a data storytelling tool;
- Productivity: Supraconductor should be a high level language like JavaScript to fit designers skills and not to be reserved to C++ programmers.

This first article lays the foundations of this new language. They describe programming layers and how they interact. And they discuss how the language will interact with GPU. Much work is still pending, but we should follow their research and how Superconductor could be implemented by the industry in future products.

Philippe NIEUWBOURG
I am an independent industry analyst, and author, with 20 years experience specializing in business... Know more about this author

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