Course analysis 2D1257 Visualisation, 4p Spring 2002

Course data


Course responsible
Kai-Mikael Jää-Aro
Other teachers:
Gunnar Ledfelt<> Tel: 790 6333


10 h lecture, 18 h supervised lab

A laboratory exercise worth 2 points, one written exam worth 2 points, six exercises giving bonus points on the exam.

23 students, (3 D, 3 F, 4 X, 11 IM)

Course literature

The Visualization Toolkit, 2nd ed by William Schroeder, Ken Martin and Bill Lorensen.

Student performance

After the exam, the results were as follows:
U 3 4 5
D 0 0 0 1
IM 1 1 0 3
X 0 0 0 3
Total 1 1 0 7
Thus 80% of the students have passed the exam.

The laboratory exercise results:
D 1
IM 1
X 2
Total 4
40% of the students have passed the laboratory exercise.


We have tried to combine theoretical lectures with immediately following hands-on exercises on the just covered material.  To encourage work on these exercises the students were given bonus points on the exam if they were demonstrated before a given deadline.  This deadline had to be pushed forward considerably as the exerciuses turned out to be more difficult than expected.


The examination was both an ungraded laboratory exercise and a written exam.

The laboratory exercise was performed in groups of two students and then presented both as a written report and a demonstration of the developed visualisation (of airflow in two different rooms).

The written exam was based on a few questions on terminology and theory and the rest on practical application of visualisation methods on various example data.

Course evaluation

Due to the low (zero) turnout last year, no ace evaluation was done this year, so the evaluation is based on informal discussions with students and my own perceptions.

This year we had placed higher requirements on the prerequisites than before, which paid off in much better results on the exam, even though it was performed without the benefit of the course book this year.  Considerably fewer students took the course this year, but this cannot be due only to the stricter requirements for the Master's students, as there were almost no "native" KTH and SU students.  Possibly the course was not perceived to have been very interesting or very good by those who took it last year, in which case measures to adjust this will have to be taken.

We had our share of troubles this year as well, in particular in a flu epidemic that knocked out many of both teachers and students and forced re-scheduling of lectures, delayed presentations and so on, causing some confusion.

We tried to encourage the students to work more actively with visualisation, setting up exercises giving bonus points on the exam.  It turned out that programming in this way was a considerable hurdle for many, due to unfamiliarity with C++, Unix and the VTK package itself, so the final deadline had to be moved forward several times.  In the end though, almost all had done all the exercises and this also had consequences for the exam in that almost everyone got top grades, thanks to their bonus points.  Since it last year had turned out to be difficult to judge exam answers that were copied straight from the book, this year the students were not allowed to bring the course book with them.  As the exam result shows, this did not turn out to be a great problem.  However, as removing external aids in a sense is an artificial restriction, I would like to re-introduce open-book exams.  Possibly some more complex theory questions can be thought out that will not allow mere copying from the literature.

Something of a surprise is that so few finished the laboratory exercises.  Having talked to a few it seems they simply dropped it to a low priority (possibly because they instead worked on their bonus exercises) and then forgot about it.  Personally I do feel that the exercise using rooms hopefully is more understandable than the one using delta wings last year, on the assumption that most people will have been in a drafty room, but fewer will have watched vortex generation over wings.

The course book was not popular and this is understandable.  It has a somewhat haphazard organisation and is difficult to find specific details in.  However there is no other book that covers both visualisation and vtk (which we for many reasons want to use as the visualisation platform) and it is always unpalatable to ask students to buy two expensive books for such a relatively small course as this.

Some of the changes planned for next year are:

Another problem is that we have had a bleed-off of teachers and even fewer will be left to next year.  Recruitment is necessary!