The DI works within the following research themes.
Cloud Computing has the potential to revolutionise e-Research by making almost infinite computing resources available on demand as and when they are needed. Researchers can have a good idea while travelling to work in the morning, and immediately grab the resources they need to pursue it. This will allow research to progress at a faster rate, as it takes less time to go from idea to realisation. It will also democratise research: making resources available cheaply to those outside well-funded labs. For the past five years, researchers at Newcastle University have been exploiting cloud computing in a wide range of projects, ranging from healthcare, through drug discovery to X-Ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Newcastle's work includes researchers working to overcome some of the barriers to the use of clouds, in particular the complexity of writing scalable, secure applications. They have designed, developed and deployed an open source cloud platform called “e-Science Central”. This makes it easy for users to collaborate in the storage and analysis of data on the cloud. e-Science Central is now used to support over £20M of projects, both within and outside of Newcastle, in academia and industry.
Computing can be both a solution and a problem for a greener environment. Saving energy through reducing power consumption is a key stratergy within the University. Research into minimizing the energy consumption of a High throughput Condor cluster, where computers are turned off when not used, is underway. Computers can also be used to collect information on environmental impact and model the effects.
Providing the computing power for users is becoming more of a challange. As people's understanding of computers increases so do their expectations. The speed of modern computers has reached a plateau and more novel techniques are required to process the vast ammounts of data researchers have. We have been working with researchers across the university in solving challanging problems through the use of General Purpose Graphical Processing Units, Cloud Computing and High Thoughput computing clusters.
Active research is carried out looking into the interaction with computers in every day environments. This looks at both how users interact with technology and how the technology can be used to benifit them. This covers many of the fields of computer science including human-computer interaction, computer graphics, artificial intelligence and computational linguistics.
Sensors are the primary way that we get digital information. At Newcastle we are exploring new technologies for building sensors and collecting information through them. This includes augmenting a kitchen in order to determine what actions are being performed and for teaching languages, instrumenting cars to determine how people drive, recording activity movement or building sensors for extreme environments.
With so much information being available on computers these days it is often desirable to visualise this information quickly allowing people to understand the information more quickly or allow solution designs to be tested more quickly. We have a number of visualisation tools which allow researchers to quickly interact with their data or designs. This includes 3D printers, milling machines, laser cutters and a 3D visualisation cave.