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Eugene Ch'ng

Associate Professor, Deputy Director IDIC, Faculty of Science

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Biography

Dr Eugene Ch'ng is associate professor in Computer Science and deputy director for the International Doctoral Innovation Centre (IDIC) Digital Economy Strand at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China campus. Dr Ch'ng graduated with a PhD in 2007 at the Electronics, Electrical and Computer Engineering, the University of Birmingham, UK, and was awarded a Best PhD prize. He previously served as Innovations Director for the IBM Visual and Spatial Technology Centre (VISTA) and Digital Humanities Hub, University of Birmingham. Dr Ch'ng's ten-year association with the VISTA centre in collaboration with multidisciplinary research centres within the UK and Europe have attracted wide international media attention. The interdisciplinary research centres which deals with large marine and terrestrial remote sensing, GIS mapping, palaeoenvironmental climate change and virtual environment reconstructions of palaeo-landscapes have been featured in high-impact international media and documentaries (National Geographic TV "Stone Age Atlantis", UK Channel 4 Time Team Specials "Stone Age Tsunami", Nature, Scientific American, Epoch, Archaeologie, etc.). A recent discovery of the world's oldest calendrical monument co-authored by Dr Ch'ng and published at the high-impact Journal of Internet Archaeology went viral in Social Media, attracted international media attention and was featured as the top news article in Google's Science News.

His research focuses on a number of complex and real-time interactive systems related to the reconstruction and modelling of massive terrestrial, social, political and virtual landscapes. He applies computational modelling and simulation techniques for the understanding of real-world landscapes and has recently initiated a collaboration with the Advanced Visualisation Research Team at Riken in Japan, which hosts the world's fastest and biggest supercomputer to develop parallel simulation and visualisation algorithms that is both portable and heterogeneous. In 2011, Dr Ch'ng was sought after to take up a strategic-investment role at the Digital Humanities Hub, a £3.5m investment by the University of Birmingham, European Regional Development Fund and donors. The Digital Humanities Hub, a spin-off from VISTA brings digital revolution into heritage and cultural domains. As part of the Digital Economy theme, Eugene led the work on digital research. He explores and pushes technological boundaries with his research group on information computation, social signal processing, context-aware systems, interconnected 'objects', 3D structured light scanning, interactive 3D (VR/AR), multitouch paradigm, mobile device integration, and multiagent systems as applied to arts & humanities research in the GLAMs (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). The goal of the Digital Humanities Hub is to facilitate the transfer of digital contents and to create values through digital means and user experience for the Digital Economy. A book was published by Springer titled "Visual Heritage in the Digital Age" as a result, which covers the state-of-the-art in digital heritage research. Through international outreach, Dr Ch'ng was appointed a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Creative Content and Digital Innovation, University of Malaya in 2013 to engage with academics in Digital Heritage, Big Data and Visual Analytics related to the Social and Political Web. The research tracks events in real-time in order to gather and understand major events. Dr Ch'ng has, in the past, been invited to a number of international keynote speech and lectures at prestigious institutions such as, the BlueBEAR (Birmingham Environment for Academic Research) Conference, Orkney Science Festival, Institute of Complex Systems in Paris, France, and etc. He was especially invited to participate in a prestigious research exhibition at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition at Carlton House Terrace in London in 2012 on Europe's Lost World. Dr Ch'ng has over 40 peer-reviewed publications and actively participates in editorial boards of international journals and programme committee memberships in his field. He is involved in programme and technical committee memberships in British Computer Society's HCI, IEEE Computer Graphics, Imaging & Vision, Distributed Simulation & Real-Time Application conferences, and Modelling & Simulation.

He is actively researching Big Data architecture, information computation and real-time visualisation related to Social Networks and has expertise and many years of experience in advanced interactive Systems, enhanced Virtual Environments, Agent-based Modelling and Multi-Agent Systems requiring large computing clusters for processing of agent-interaction and computer graphics rendering. Dr Ch'ng holds various research grants amongst which one is from the prestigious Leverhulme Trust. He is a Council Member of the Complex Systems Society.

Summary of Networks and Activities

  • Core Member, RCUK, EPSRC Network Grant for Digital Economy Sub-Theme, Sustainable Society Network+, 2012…2015
  • Core Member, RCUK, EPSRC Network Grant for Digital Economy Sub-Theme, Communities and Cultures Network+, 2012…2015
Invited Keynote, Talks and Lectures
  • Scalable Agent Models for Complex Systems Simulation in Large Geospatial, Ecological and Social Landscapes, Big Data and Complexity, European Conference on Complex Systems 2013, Barcelona, 16-20 September 2013
  • Understanding Past Landscapes with Complex Systems Science: Agent-based models of entities and their environments, Orkney International Science Festival, Kirkwall, The Orkney Islands, 6 September 2013
  • Big Data and Geospatial and Social Landscapes Research, Riken, Kobe Japan, 17 June 2013
  • Complexity as a Means of Understanding Dynamics in Heritage Tourism, Visiting Pasts, Developing Futures - International Conference "Tourism and the Shifting Values of Cultural Heritage", Taipei, Taiwan. April 5 - 9 2013, 6 April 2013
  • Sundaland Project Briefing, University of Malaya, Malaysia 4 April, 2013
  • Physical, Conceptual and Virtual Landscapes Research with Complex Systems Science, Kageyama Lab, Faculty of Science and Technology, Kobe University, 11 April 2013
  • A Complex Systems Science Approach to Reconstructing Past Landscapes: Understanding and Using the Principles of Complex Adaptive Systems, University of Malaya, Malaysia 4 April, 2013
  • How to Progress in the Academic Career, Multimedia University, Malaysia
  • Discovering Heritage, Transforming Culture: Connecting the Past with the Present through Emerging Technology, Universiti Malaya, Malaysia
  • Information, Computation and Complexity: Research in Heritage and Culture, Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH) Summer School. Birmingham 2-13 July 2012
  • Strategies for Agent-Based Modelling: An Object Oriented Approach To Modelling and Simulating Complex Systems, SCIM@University of Bradford, 25 April 2012
  • The Heritage Experience in the Era of Web 3.0 and Pervasive Computing, Multimedia, University, 17 November 2011
  • Creative Pathways to Urban Tourism, Catania Sicilly "Digital Heritage Tourism - Reconfiguring the Visitor Experience in Heritage Sites, Museums and Architecture in the Era of Pervasive Computing"
  • BEAR PG Conference, Birmingham University "Agents in Ancient Worlds: Communicating with the Past Using the Technology of the Future"
  • Digital Revolution in Heritage and Culture: A Paradigm Shift in the Exploration, Research and Display of Objects, Environments, Text and Behaviour. 14 April 2011 Multimedia University, Cyberjaya, Malaysia

Programme Committee, Panels and Chairs

  • Distinguished Dissertations 2013 Reviewer Board, Council for Professors and Heads of Computing and the British Computer Society
  • Reviewer Board - ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage
  • Reviewer Board - British Computer Society HCI Conference Series
  • Technical Programme Committee - IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Distributed Simulation and Real-time Applications (DS-RT)
  • Review Committee - CGIV 9th International Conference on Computer Graphics, Imaging and Vision, 25-27 July 2013, Hsinchu, Taiwan.
  • Panel Chair - Digital Heritage Technology, Tourism and the Shifting Values of Cultural Heritage, Visiting Pasts, Developing Futures - International Conference, Taipei, Taiwan. April 5 - 9 2013
  • Panel Chair and Convenor - Interpretation and Communication of Heritage Values in the Digital Domain, Tourism and the Shifting Values of Cultural Heritage, Visiting Pasts, Developing Futures - International Conference, Taipei, Taiwan. April 5 - 9 2013
  • Chair, Demo Session at the British Computer Society HCI 2012, Birmingham UK, 12-14 Sept. 2012
  • Editorial Committee - International Conference on Modelling and Simulation
  • Programme Committee - 2013 World Conference on Information Systems and Technologies (WorldCIST'13), Algarve, Portugal 27-30 March 2012
  • Programme Committee - 9th International Conference on Computer Graphics, Imaging and Visualization, 24-27 July 2012, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan.
  • Invited Authorship - Transforming Artist Books, Tate Britain, 26 July 2012
  • Invited Expert Panel [digital]- 'The Only Way is Ethics' Conference and Parallel Debate, ICON Metals Group, Institute of Conservation, University of Cardiff 12 April 2012
  • Ideas Panel - Transforming Artist's Book Network Meeting, Tate Britain, 23 March 2012
  • Advisory Board - Almatourism: Journal of To
  • Forum Review Committee (2008) - IEEE 5th International Conference on Computer Graphics, Imaging and Visualisation 2008, Penang, Malaysia.
  • urism, Culture and Territorial Development
  • Technical Programme Committee - 15th IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Distributed Simulation and Real-time Applications (DS-RT 2011)
  • Programme Committee - IEEE 7th International Conference on Computer Graphics, Imaging and Vision (CGiV), 10-13 August 2010, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.
  • Programme Committee - IEEE Games Innovation Conference (GIC), 21-24 December 2010, Hong Kong
  • Programme Chair - International Conference on Computer Games: AI, Animation, Mobile, Educational & Serious Games, CGAMES 2009, November, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.
  • Forum Review Committee - IEEE 6th International Conference on Computer Graphics, Imaging and Visualization CGiV09, 11-14 August 2009, Tianjin, China.
  • Programme Chair - International Conference on Computer Games: AI, Animation, Mobile, Educational & Serious Games, CGAMES 2008, November, Wolverhampton UK.
  • Review Panel - for IGI Publishing Group - Nature-Inspired Informatics for Intelligent Applications and Knowledge Discovery: Implications in Business, Science and Engineering
  • Science Reviewer - VR book for Morgan Kauffman (Elsevier Imprint)
  • Review Panel - IEEE Virtual Reality 2008 Conference, Reno, Nevada, USA March 8-12
  • Session Chair (Serious & Pervasive Games), International Conference on Computer Games: AI, Animation, Mobile, Educational & Serious Games, CGAMES 2007, 21-23 November, La Rochelle France, 21-23 November 2007.
  • Review Panel - International Conference on Computer Games: AI, Animation, Mobile, Educational & Serious Games, CGAMES 2007, La Rochelle France, 21-23 November 2007.
  • Review Panel - IEEE Computer Society, Computer Graphics, Imaging and Vision, CGiV 2006, Sydney, Australia, 26-28 July 2006.
  • Review Panel - IEEE Computer Society, Computer Graphics, Imaging and Vision, CGiV 2005, Beijing, China, 26-29 July 2005.

Expertise Summary

  • Big Data Architecture, Processing, Analysis and Visualisation
  • Complex Systems Science, Agent-based modelling and multiagent systems
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Interactive Systems, Virtual Environments and Virtual Reality
  • Computer Graphics and Real-Time Visualisation
  • Digital Heritage

Research Summary

A Collaborative Environment for Assisted 3D Reconstruction of Cuneiform Tablets PI, The Leverhulme Trust (£100K) This project aims to improve the worldwide collaborative workflow that allows… read more

Current Research

A Collaborative Environment for Assisted 3D Reconstruction of Cuneiform Tablets PI, The Leverhulme Trust (£100K) This project aims to improve the worldwide collaborative workflow that allows cuneiform experts and enthusiasts working on the reconstruction of cuneiform tablets via an interactive 3D interface. We explore human behaviour (Stigmergy - "coordination without direct communication") within the Complexity theory framework in order to facilitate crowd-sourced reconstruction of 3D puzzles. The technical aspect of the research involves the cataloguing of 3D laser-scanned cuneiform fragments in a structure that allows efficient network transmissions, and algorithms (NP-C) for automatic/assisted reconstruction integrated as part of the virtual environment. The success of this project will help us to recover more than three millennia of written history in one of the most important regions of the ancient world, but could also be extended for a range of different fields that requires collaborative works. PhD Student: Andrew Lewis. (Project: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/facilities/digitalhumanitieshub/projects/cuneiform/index.aspx)

A Complex Community of People, Objects and Devices PI, Carol Kennedy Scholarship (£80K) The project investigates a complex community of people, objects and devices and how they can digitally relate to each other within a communications architecture. The research explores how well multiple devices facilitate social interactions in the access of geological and archaeological artefacts within a space. One of the novel feature of the project is the understanding of social-spatial position and orientation of people in relation to both individual and collective experiences. PhD Student: Gido Hakvoort. The project is parked at the Digital Humanities Hub http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/facilities/digitalhumanitieshub/index.aspx

Context-Awareness in Surface and Mobile Computing in Intelligent Spaces PI, Telekom Malaysia (£130,600) The project explores context-awareness in the use of mobile and surface content displays. A variety of sensors (optical, auditory, pressure, etc) are developed and integrated within a software framework that facilitates the identification of personalities. PhD Student: Mohd. Hafizuddin Mohd. Yusof. The project is parked at the Digital Humanities Hub http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/facilities/digitalhumanitieshub/index.aspx

Digital Technology and the User-Experience Studies in Digital Museums Strategic Investment Bid Holder, Digital Humanities Hub (£75K) Leads the work on research in the Digital Humanities Hub. We explore digital technology in interconnected objects (people, devices, artefacts), 3D laser scanning, 3D printing, interactive 3D (VR/AR), multitouch content development, mobile device integration, human positioning/orientation-tracking and multiagent systems applied to arts & humanities research. The research has resulted in various important publications in the field.

Real-Time Big Data Tracking: Election and Political Semantics within Social Media The exploratory project constructs Big Data architecture that streams in real-time massive amounts of raw data from social media. We conduct statistical, semantic and social network analysis on Big Data in order to understand communities and collective behaviours. The study also includes the geo-location of disparate communities that form across large geographical distances. Project in collaboration with the Centre for Creative Content and Digital Innovation of which I'm a visiting professor (http://www.3cdium.com/).

Past Research

✺ This selected list of projects highlights my experience and expertise in a wide range of research and industry-oriented work.

Digital Humanities Hub Innovations Director A £3.5m investment by the University of Birmingham, European funding, and donors, the Digital Humanities Hub brings digital revolution into heritage and cultural domains. As part of the Digital Economy research theme, Eugene leads the work on research in the Hub. He explores and pushes technological boundaries with his research group on information computation, social signal processing, context-aware systems, interconnected 'objects', 3D structured light scanning, interactive 3D (VR/AR), multitouch paradigm, mobile device integration, and multiagent systems applied to arts & humanities research in the GLAMs (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). The goal of which is to facilitate the transfer of digital contents and creating values through digital means and user experience for the Digital Economy.

Flag Fen Archaeology: Interactive Virtual Environment PI, Vivacity-Peterborough (£10K) The project reconstructs the Bronze and Iron Age landscape using information from excavations, environmental sampling, photographs and previous artists' reconstructions, GIS data such as topographic information and modern maps of the area. The virtual reconstruction is accessible to a wider range of computers and devices, with an XBox 360 controller installed at the Museum for ease of interaction for a wide range of audiences. As part of the environment, computer graphics techniques such as special effects were added for realism. These are water reflections, the swaying of vegetation to simulate mild wind conditions and birds and insects 3D sound effects, which were placed at strategic locations to create an atmosphere. Sun shafts simulate radial light scattering when the virtual sun is partly obscured by objects such as the timber poles, and lens flares. Aerial perspective effects were also added to add a depth of field camera effects to distance objects. As there are thousands of 3D objects in the virtual reconstruction, Occlusion Culling, a technique to optimise a 3D scene for faster and smoother real-time exploration is applied. These effects enhance the phenomenology of the landscape (Tilley 1994), giving users a sense of time and space (virtual time-travel) through the sensory experience of sight and hearing by being in a landscape.

Agent-based Ancient Creatures on Multitouch Displays Lead, Exploratory project for future museums Using artificial life and agent-based modelling approaches, the exploratory project reconstructs a simple geological environment that incorporates simulated environmental factors. Trilobites, a well-known fossil group of extinct marine arthropods (c. 250 million years ago) were reconstructed from the Lapworth Geological Museum at the University of Birmingham using computer graphics techniques (3D scanning, modelling and animation). The virtual trilobites were brought-to-life with artificial life behaviour embedded within the agent, which controls the preference and movement of the agent in the 3D environment. The display is stereoscopic, with participants looking into a pool. Users interact with the trilobites via the multitouch table by feeding them with 'live' copepods. The virtual museum demonstrates the potentials to model an entire ancient ecology for such exhibits in the future of museums.

'Shift Life' - Alternate biology and Mixed-Reality Environment Co-PI, Demonstrated at 'Shift-Time' Festival, Darwin's bicentenary celebration, Arts Council England (£10K) In response to Darwin's 'big idea', the aim of this work was to create an 'alternate' biological life as a set of artificial or virtual organisms that possessed similar biological processes to their 'real' counterparts, such as growth, reproduction, and adaptation. The virtual life forms existed in a nutritional (trophic) relationship of predator/prey, and included both rooted (sessile) and free roaming (vagile) organisms. Animal-intelligence (artificial life) was programmed into the virtual organisms to allow them survival strategies. The virtual environment integrates real-time streaming data from environmental sensors (solar, humidity, earthquake impact, acidity) that affects the growth, reproduction, behaviour and movement of the artificial life.

Therapy Support for Post-Traumatic Stress Reaction Disorder Researcher, HFI DTC (£30K) A demonstrator Virtual Reality and Synthethic Environment (SE) project that reconstructs war zones and very difficult human situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The project works with psychologists in therapy support for defence medicine.

Alchemy Testbed- iSTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition & Reconnaissance) Unmanned-Aerial Vehicles. Developer, HFI DTC This project develops a low-cost Virtual Reality and Synthethic Environment testbed for the support of homeland security operations in urban environments. The VE project includes a wide variety of human-system interface issues (exocentric vs egocentric control modes, UAV sensor type, etc).

Part-Task Training for Dillon Minigun Serious Gaming Simulator Developer, HFI DTC A Virtual Reality and Synthethic Environment (SE) project that incorporates a mechanical controller with the SE mounted on a Destroyer HMS Edinburgh that simulates the real physical environment exercise. The project was used for studying human-factor issues in real life and supports technology-based trainers.

Future Research

Big Data Related Research in Exploration

  • Large semantics analysis, social network analysis and graph mining
  • Real-time or near real-time data and graph visualisation using GPGPU
  • Multi-agent systems and agent-based modelling of ecology and population movement in large landscapes from 3D seismic topographical datasets, palaeoenvironment data, SedaDNA, GIS.

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