All posts by Eugene

Dr Eugene Ch’ng is Senior Lecturer and Innovations Director at the IBM Visual and Spatial Technology Centre and the Heritage and Cultural Learning Hub, the University of Birmingham. He has formal education in a wide variety of fields (Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Interior Architecture, Computer Science and, Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering). His research has an overarching theme in Complex Systems Science research for studying and reconstructing physical, social and virtual landscapes. He specialises 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. The fusion of 3D visualisation and complex systems modelling is a unique strength that is applicable to a wide variety of disciplines. His research focuses on a number of complex and interactive systems related to the reconstruction of terrestrial, social, political and virtual landscapes. He also applies cutting-edge technology for facilitating user experience and learning using emerging hardware and information computation in digital heritage. Dr Ch’ng has over 40 peer-reviewed scholarly publications and is actively involved in editorial boards, technical and program committees in international journals and conferences in his field. Dr Ch’ng is a member of the IEEE Computer Society.
Doorway into the deep recesses of the amazing scholarly institute

Visit to the Institute of Complex Systems, Paris (ICS-PIF)

Doorway into the deep recesses of the amazing scholarly Institute. The Institute will be moving to a new building next year.

I visited my friend David Chavalarias, the director of the Institute of Complex Systems (Institut des Systèmes Complexes, Paris Île-de-France – ICS-PIF) and gave a talk on my recent research findings on social networks – “Landscapes and Complexity: Isolating Communities in Social Networks “, and how extensible and scalable frameworks could be used to mine Big Data from social communications. The people at the institute was a wonderful crowd. We shared a scholarly Q&A session and exchanged important ideas during the 2 hour session in the morning.

The future of research opportunities with David and associated members of the Institute looks great, we aim to contribute to society in many ways by using Big Data and Complexity. We will be working together with Prof. Harold Thwaites and Maziyar Panahi (Centre for Creative Content and Digital Innovation). The coming weeks will define our progression from concepts and ideas to initial development.

As a result of the European Conference on Complex Systems, and my visit to ICS-PIF, I have  joined the Complex Systems Society and aims to contribute to its cause in the coming years.

David Chavalarias and Eugene Ch’ng


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Orkney International Science Festival: Europe’s Lost World

We gave a talk up at the Orkney International Science Festival on the topic of Europe’s Lost World, and how we can combine both geological surveys, landscape mapping, archaeo-environmental sampling, and complex systems science for reconstructing and understanding inundated landscapes. Videos below!

The Programme:

Beneath the sediments of the North Sea bed lie the remains of a land where trees grew and animals flourished 15,000 years ago, when sea levels were much lower due to the mass of water locked up in the weight of ice across a frozen Europe. Dr Richard Bates of the University of St Andrews and Dr Martin Bates of the University of Wales describe the work of reconstructing the past environment, and Prof. Vince Gaffney of Birmingham University reports on the latest studies of the lost world of Doggerland.


The Stone Age hunters and fishers who populated Mesolithic Europe 10,000 years ago have left little trace. Those who roamed Doggerland are particularly elusive. Dr Eugene Ch’ng of Birmingham University shows how an understanding of complex systems can help to build a model of past populations, and Caroline Wickham-Jones of Aberdeen University and Dr Sue Dawson of Dundee University describe the ongoing search around Orkney for clues to the people of the drowned lands.

Dr Richard Bate’s Presentation

Dr. Sue Dawson’s Presentation

My presentation on Complex Systems Science (beginning 21:00)


Our Exhibition:

Our Trip to Skara Brae:

My first “experience” of Skara Brae was when I first played the game Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar as a boy in 1984, there is a mystical town called Skara Brae where the Codex of Editable Wisdom can be found :). I had to visit the real Skara Brae at least once in my life!

Stigmergy: Cooperation without direct communication

A collaborative environment for assisted 3d reconstruction of cuneiform tablets

We’re presenting conducting very exciting experiments at the Digital Humanities Hub. A grant supported by The Leverhulme Trust aims to understand how cooperation works in reconstructing 5,000 years old text (Cuneiform fragments) from the Babylonian and Sumerian era. This project aims to improve the worldwide collaborative workflow that allows cuneiform experts and enthusiasts to work on the reconstruction of 3D Cuneiform tablets via an interactive 3D interface. By understanding how people work cooperatively at 3D puzzles using the concept of Stigmergy – “Cooperation without Direction Communication” (part of Complex Systems Science Theory), we will be able to build better interfaces for facilitating cooperative behaviour.

Read more at:
A collaborative environment for assisted 3d reconstruction of cuneiform tablets

The Warren Field Pit Alignment On The Mid Winter Solstice (World’s Oldest Calendar)

V. Gaffney, S. Fitch, E. Ramsey, R. Yorston, E. Ch’ng, E. Baldwin, R. Bates, C. Gaffney, C. Ruggles, T. Sparrow, A. McMillan, D. Cowley, S. Fraser, C. Murray, H. Murray, E. Hopla and A. Howard (2013) ‘Time and a Place: A luni-solar ‘time-reckoner’ from 8th millennium BC Scotland’, Internet Archaeology 34

[Link to Journal]

The capacity to conceptualise and measure time is amongst the most important achievements of human societies, and the issue of when time was “created” by humankind is critical in understanding how society has developed. A pit alignment, recently excavated in Aberdeenshire (Scotland), provides a new contribution to this debate. This structure, dated to the 8th millennium BC, has been re-analysed by a team led from the IBM VISTA Centre and the results suggest that the pit group may have acquired basic calendrical functions through observation of the repeated cycles of the Moon. The pit group appears to mimic the phases of the Moon and the 12 pits are structured to track lunar months. The monument also aligns on the southeast horizon and a prominent topographic point associated with sunrise on the midwinter solstice. In doing so the monument anticipates problems associated with simple lunar calendars by providing an annual astronomic correction in order to maintain the link between the passage of time indicated by the Moon, the asynchronous solar year, and the associated seasons.  The site may therefore provide the earliest evidence currently available for “time reckoning” and suggests that hunter-gatherer societies in Scotland had both the need and ability to track time across the year, and also perhaps within the month, and that this occurred at a period nearly five thousand years before the first formal calendars were created in Mesopotamia.

Birmingham researchers working with colleagues from Bradford, St Andrews, the Scottish National Trust, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and Murray Archaeological Associates have resurveyed and re-analysed the site and the results of this work have been published in the paper “Time and a Place: a lunisolar ‘time reckoner’ from 8th millennium Scotland” Internet Archaeology, July 2013.  Aside from the results contained within the paper staff at IBM VISTA have provided a virtual recreation of the site and the rising sun and this is reproduced below.

More info at:

Riken K-Computer (Kobe, Japan)

Visiting the Riken K-Computer and the Advanced Visualisation Research Lab

I visited Riken and the Advanced Visualisation Research Team’s lab and gave a talk on BigData landscape research. I also attended a talk by Hamed Khandan on the next 5 years of research and was very happy to be the audience of Ono sensei’s presentation on fluid dynamics visualisation. We discussed collaboration opportunities and where to proceed in the next step.

Special thanks to the AVR’s members: Ono sensei, Hamed-san, Bichong-san, Nonaka-san and Hayakawa-san.

Riken K-Computer

The K computer – named for the Japanese word “kei” (京), meaning 10 quadrillion (1016). 88,128 SPARC64 VIIIfx processors, Tofu interconnect, Linux-based enhanced operating system!!! 10.51 petaflops.

As of 2013, the K computer comprises over 80,000 2.0 GHz 8-core SPARC64 VIIIfx processors contained in 864 cabinets, for a total of over 640,000 cores, manufactured by Fujitsu with 45 nm CMOS technology. Each cabinet contains 96 computing nodes, in addition to 6 I/O nodes. Each computing node contains a single processor and 16 GB of memory. The computer’s water cooling system is designed to minimize failure rate and power consumption.



Illustration: Destructor Bot

I tried my hands on digital painting with the Wacom Intuos4 and Photoshop CS5 yesterday. I started off with doodling random shapes with the black brush, the outcome was a destructor bot. The concept art illustrates a bot that breaks down used machinery into basic components, much like how certain bacteria breaks down organic matter.


Space Craft Render

Space Craft Rendering

I found my collection of Architectural drafting tools the other day and started sketching. This was what the result of the sketch. I think the ability to draw is innate, and won’t go away even after many years. I didn’t draw for almost 15 years after my architectural training but still could do it.


Blender 3D Tutorial – Simple Character Rigging and Export to Unity 3D

This video tutorial is for my students in the Virtual World’s workshop at the University of Birmingham. It covers the modelling of a simple character through to using Blender’s Armature for rigging the character. Later, the tutorial shows you how to animate the character using the Actions Editor before exporting to Unity 3D and setting up simple scripts for controlling the animation sequence.

Blender File: Dummy.blend