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Ray Tracing For Undergraduates

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Computer Simulation and Animation II

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1019.1 - 13.1019.12



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Paper Authors


Christiaan Gribble Grove City College

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Christiaan P. Gribble is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Grove City College. His research focuses on global illumination algorithms, interactive and realistic rendering, scientific visualization, and high-performance computing. Gribble has served as a post-doctoral research fellow and research assistant for the Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute at the University of Utah, and as a research assistant at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. In 2005, he received the Graduate Research Fellowship from the University of Utah. Gribble received the BS degree in mathematics from Grove City College in 2000, the MS degree in information networking from Carnegie Mellon University in 2002, and the PhD degree in computer science from the University of Utah in 2006.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Ray Tracing for Undergraduates

1. Introduction

The computer graphics research community has recently renewed its interest in ray tracing, an image synthesis algorithm that simulates the interaction of light with an environment to generate highly realistic images (Figure 1). Recent hardware trends and algorithmic developments make the technique competitive with raster-based algorithms, and some suggest that ray tracing will begin to dominate interactive rendering in coming years.

Figure 1: Image synthesis using ray tracing. The ray tracing algorithm supports complex visual effects that are not easily implemented with raster-based techniques, including depth-of-field, glossy and specular reflections, refraction, soft shadows, and diffuse interreflection.

At Grove City College, we have mapped the contents of common graduate-level courses in ray tracing to an undergraduate audience. Students design and implement a full-featured ray tracing system in a semester-long course that focuses on:

the essential physics and mathematics, software architecture and the impact of design decisions, writing efficient object-oriented code, and basic algorithm analysis.

The course also affords an opportunity to introduce students to the relevant computer science literature, both seminal works and recent innovations, throughout the semester.

In this paper, we provide a brief overview of the visibility problem and two competing algorithms that are commonly used to solve the problem, we detail the course topics and methodology we have used, and we describe our experience in a pilot course with a small group of undergraduate students.

2. Background

Gribble, C. (2008, June), Ray Tracing For Undergraduates Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4066

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