Some time ago I talked with a good friend of mine about Knights Hunt. He said, I should move away from the chess-like board. Another nice type would be a hex-board. That time I rejected the idea, but the brain can usually not stop thinking about stuff. Basically, the shape of the board is not important.

The way knights move seems easy to transfer to a hex-board (1 field straight + 1 field diagonal => 1 field straight + 1 field in a neighboring direction). The knight loses some freedom in its movement (on a chess board there are 8 reachable fields, while on the hex-board there are only 6 reachable fields.) but that is not a problem. However, if you take a closer look, you will see, that there is a very huge problem! The knight can only reach 1/3 of all fields of the board. To fix this, the knight movement needs to be extended, either by allowing to move only one field or be allowing to move two fields in one direction. The solution is not clear to me yet. Let ignore this problem for now and stick to the classical movement.

Considering the size of the board a hex-board with four fields on each edge would be the same size as the smaller chess board currently used (37 fields vs. 36 fields):

One possible hex-board for an adjusted game.
The currently used Knights Hunt chess-like board

The fields with colored border are the fields the knights can reach in their first move. One further problem is visible: the reachable fields are further apart on the hex-board. This means that the meeting of the knights will need more turns and thus that the games evolve slower. However, Knights Hunt was designed for a fast game play. Thus, I do not like this.

One way to solve this issue is to make the board smaller. However, a hex-board with edge length of three fields has only 19 fields altogether. Too few for four knights. Thus we need to remove some playing pieces (which is a good thing for fast game play):

Smaller hex-board with only one knight

However, now there is a real movement problem: the knight can effectively move only to the center field, where he is immediate prey for the enemy. This is not good. While it would be possible to move the outer pawns out of the way, the problem of the center field remains. Other ways of moving knights might also not solve this problem. One thing we can try is a different starting layout (and rotating the board):

Alternative starting layout

Now, this looks nicely lilke the classical scenario (using the classical knight moves, which will not work). However, the second move (the first black move) is again a huge problem.

Concolusion: The hex-board simple do not work that way. I like the idea to simplify the game by only using one knight and I will continue to think about it. However, the result is likely a completely new game.

The year 2012 is almost gone. Let’s use this opportunity to reflect on what’s happend. Ok, ok. No one likes annual reviews (me neither), but still…

Early this year I defended my dissertation, and finished my Ph.D. With this, I also finished my work at the Visualization Research Center of the University of Stuttgart. And I mean “at”, not “with”. I still continue working with the “guys from Stuttgart”, and we have some pretty exciting ideas under development.

Then I moved to Dresden and started working at the TU Dresden in the project VICCI. It’s a great city and a great group working here at the computer graphics lab. I really enjoy working and we have some fascinating science projects going on here.

What else? TheLib started. Together with two friends and ex-colleagues from Stuttgart, we decided to fix the design issues of the VISlib, by creating a new, clean library. It is a lot of work, but it is worth it.

And, of course, there is my private game project: Springerjagd (Knights Hunt). Although, I already started to work on the rules last year, it was this year that the game finally got it’s name. And it’s webseit, although there is not much to see there. But this project is something I will be definitly going to continue.

And, with this we reach the New Year’s resolutions (although it’s 1-2 days early): basically, I only want to do what I can to make 2013 as successful as 2012 was. No, I will make it even more successful. However, I believer there is no need for more detailed plans :-)

And, because I do not plan to post again at New Year’s Eve, I wish you all:

“A happy new Year!”

I had some very quite days this week. Nothing really happend, and that is a very good thing. Thus, the only thing I have to say this week is:

Merry Christmas!

What a week.

The deadline for paper submission for the EuroVis 2013 was this weekend. I wanted to submit my current work there, and therefore the motto for this week was: “paper writing and polishing”. Hard work! And now I am curious about the results. I am satisfied with my results, but, of course, the reviewers have to be satisfied as well. And a bit of luck is required as well, as there is strong competition.

However, because the double blind reviewing process is now running, I, of course, cannot write about this work here (yet).

In the years from 2007 to 2012 I worked at the Visualization Research Center of the University of Stuttgart, respectively at the Institute for Visualization and Interactive Systems. The core topic of my work was research and development of visualizations for data sets from molecular dynamics simulations. My work was financed by the Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 716 of the German Research Foundation (DFG). One goal was to be able to handle ever larger data sets in interactive visualization. A second goal was to support efficient visual analysis, utilizing meaningful representations derived from the original data.

Finally, in 2007 I presented my first work at the IEEE VIS Conference in Sacramento, a paper with the title “Visual Verification and Analysis of Cluster Detection for Molecular Dynamics” [1]. This work focuses on algorithms for detecting of clusters of molecules, predecessors of liquid droplets in vapor. Each of these detection algorithms has its strong and weak points. Therefore, the visual analysis and comparison of the results are very important. Especially the temporal stability of the detected clusters and their interaction with each other are crucial factors.

Thus we (my colleagues and I) defined “flow groups” to identify interesting areas within the data sets. A “flow group” is a group of molecules, moving from one point in time from one molecule cluster to a second molecule cluster at a second point in time, this this group comprises all molecules switch between two clusters together. This definition enables us to visually judge the stability of an algorithm and even to compare two different algorithms. This publication was the first corner stone for my dissertation thesis: “Point-based Visualization of Molecular Dynamics Data Sets”.

[1] [doi] S. Grottel, G. Reina, J. Vrabec, and T. Ertl, “Visual Verification and Analysis of Cluster Detection for Molecular Dynamics,” Visualization and Computer Graphics, IEEE Transactions on, vol. 13, iss. 6, pp. 1624-1631, 2007.
  author = {Grottel, Sebastian and Reina, Guido and Vrabec, Jadran and Ertl, Thomas},
  journal={Visualization and Computer Graphics, IEEE Transactions on}, 
  number = 6,
  pages = {1624--1631},
  title = {{Visual Verification and Analysis of Cluster Detection for Molecular Dynamics}},
  volume = 13,
  year = 2007,

It’s the first sunday after I promised to write a post each sunday. Well, at least I warned you that not all posts will be meaningful. So let’s start directly with the non-meaningful ones:

Some days ago I heard a discussion (more like a monolog), where an expert (Linux user, which only touches Windows using thick gloves, and only if he really must) presented his opinion: “Windows 7 was the way it was, but Windows 8 is not suitable for desktop computers”.

Really, I cannot stand this non-sense! Did you ever try using Windows 8? (“Using” not “trying out”!) I did. On my desktop computer. And you know what? It works perfectly! The tile menu in Windows 8 is just fine, the apps can be ignored without effort, and on the legacy desktop there are so many small improvements that I really enjoy working with it. Okey, most of the GUI changes are optimized for touch input. Using on a normal desktop computer you need to use a special hardware called: MOUSE!

I decided to write more about my “work” here.

I am doing research in the field of interactive Visualization of large data sets from scientific sources, like physical simulations. Additionally, I am interested in the visual analysis of abstract but structured data, like graphs. I focus on efficient representation and exploration.

Currently I am employed as PostDoc at the Technical University Dresden at the Computer Graphics and Visualization lab. Next up I will post and discuss some of my older works here.

Some of you might have noticed that was unavailable for about two weeks now.
I am trying to clean up the mess and to reconstruct the lost data (post only. Comments are lost for sure).

Just a quick note: Never NEVER EVER trust a backup system you have not set up yourself.

Busy days. But I am pretty happy with my new Job. And I like my new flat and my new city. … New life. :-)

However, my private projects are not completely on hold. Especially my brain is working as usual. Thus I finally found the name for my board game:

Knights Hunt

In German it is “Springerjagd”. I like the name because is focuses on the “Knights” chess pieces. Especially the German name can be interpreted both as a hunt of knights as well as a hunt after knights. (I hope this is right in English) And I hope this duality in the meaning is somewhat present in the English version of the name as well.

Although there is not much news on the game software development itself I secured the corresponding internet domain name. :-) (or Hopefully, I will be able to fill that site with some content.