Trevis Rothwell's weblog

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Cedar Rapids IEEE Meeting on Real-time 3D Graphics Rendering

15 May 2012

In one of those rare instances when my schedule and that of the local chapter of the IEEE aligned, tonight I enjoyed listening to a talk by Chris Wyman on the topic of real-time 3D graphics rendering. This blog post is just meant to capture some of the notes I made during the talk:

  • There are two kinds of wrong answers in computing: an answer can be so inaccurate that it is useless, or an answer can be so late as to be useless. Inaccurate answers might be timely, and late answers might be accurate, but in neither case is the answer helpful.
  • Some optimization techniques that made sense decades ago, such as caching trigonometric values in memory rather than recomputing them, no longer make sense, as computing has become faster than memory access.
  • There are two general approaches to improve real-time interactive graphics rendering: you start with fast but poor quality graphics and improve the quality, or you can start with slow but high quality graphics and improve the rendering time. Relatively simple adjustments can make a big difference, coming from either direction.

Graphics rendering is about as far away from what I do as you can get and still be within the field of computer science, but it was interesting to get some insight into this line of work.