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Hierarchical Variance Reduction Techniques for Monte Carlo Rendering

  • Petrik Clarberg
Publiceringsår: 2012
Språk: Engelska
Dokumenttyp: Doktorsavhandling


Ever since the first three-dimensional computer graphics appeared half a century ago, the goal has been to model and simulate how light interacts with materials and objects to form an image. The ultimate goal is photorealistic rendering, where the created images reach a level of accuracy that makes them indistinguishable from photographs of the real world. There are many applications ñ visualization of products and architectural designs yet to be built, special effects, computer-generated films, virtual reality, and video games, to name a few. However, the problem has proven tremendously complex; the illumination at any point is described by a recursive integral to which a closed-form solution seldom exists. Instead, computer simulation and Monte Carlo methods are commonly used to statistically estimate the result. This introduces undesirable noise, or variance, and a large body of research has been devoted to finding ways to reduce the variance. I continue along this line of research, and present several novel techniques for variance reduction in Monte Carlo rendering, as well as a few related tools.

The research in this dissertation focuses on using importance sampling to pick a small set of well-distributed point samples. As the primary contribution, I have developed the first methods to explicitly draw samples from the product of distant high-frequency lighting and complex reflectance functions. By sampling the product, low noise results can be achieved using a very small number of samples, which is important to minimize the rendering times. Several different hierarchical representations are explored to allow efficient product sampling. In the first publication, the key idea is to work in a compressed wavelet basis, which allows fast evaluation of the product. Many of the initial restrictions of this technique were removed in follow-up work, allowing higher-resolution uncompressed lighting and avoiding precomputation of reflectance functions. My second main contribution is to present one of the first techniques to take the triple product of lighting, visibility and reflectance into account to further reduce the variance in Monte Carlo rendering. For this purpose, control variates are combined with importance sampling to solve the problem in a novel way. A large part of the technique also focuses on analysis and approximation of the visibility function. To further refine the above techniques, several useful tools are introduced. These include a fast, low-distortion map to represent (hemi)spherical functions, a method to create high-quality quasi-random points, and an optimizing compiler for analyzing shaders using interval arithmetic. The latter automatically extracts bounds for importance sampling of arbitrary shaders, as opposed to using a priori known reflectance functions.

In summary, the work presented here takes the field of computer graphics one step further towards making photorealistic rendering practical for a wide range of uses. By introducing several novel Monte Carlo methods, more sophisticated lighting and materials can be used without increasing the computation times. The research is aimed at domain-specific solutions to the rendering problem, but I believe that much of the new theory is applicable in other parts of computer graphics, as well as in other fields.


Lecture hall E:1406, E-building,Ole Römers väg 3, Lund University Faculty of Engineering
  • Jason Lawrence


  • Computer Science
  • computer graphics
  • Monte Carlo methods
  • importance sampling
  • hierarchical techniques
  • rendering


  • Computer Graphics-lup-obsolete
  • Tomas Akenine-Möller
  • ISSN: 1404-1219
  • ISBN: 978-91-976939-9-8

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