In computer graphics, photon mapping is a two-pass global illumination algorithm developed by Henrik Wann Jensen that approximately solves the rendering equation. Rays from the light source and rays from the camera are traced independently until some termination criterion is met, then they are connected in a second step to produce a radiance value. It is used to realistically simulate the interaction of light with different objects.
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Caustic (optics)
In optics, a caustic or caustic network is the envelope of light rays reflected or refracted by a curved surface or object, or the projection of that envelope of rays on another surface. The caustic is a curve or surface to which each of the light rays is tangent, defining a boundary of an envelope of rays as a curve of concentrated light. Therefore in the image to the right, the caustics can be the patches of light or their bright edges. These shapes often have cusp singularities.
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Global illumination
Global illumination is a general name for a group of algorithms used in 3D computer graphics that are meant to add more realistic lighting to 3D scenes. Such algorithms take into account not only the light which comes directly from a light source (direct illumination), but also subsequent cases in which light rays from the same source are reflected by other surfaces in the scene, whether reflective or not (indirect illumination).
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Radiance
Radiance and spectral radiance are measures of the quantity of radiation that passes through or is emitted from a surface and falls within a given solid angle in a specified direction. They are used in radiometry to characterize diffuse emission and reflection of electromagnetic radiation. In astrophysics, radiance is also used to quantify emission of neutrinos and other particles.
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Ray tracing (graphics)
In computer graphics, ray tracing is a technique for generating an image by tracing the path of light through pixels in an image plane and simulating the effects of its encounters with virtual objects. The technique is capable of producing a very high degree of visual realism, usually higher than that of typical scanline rendering methods, but at a greater computational cost.
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Reflection (physics)
Reflection is the change in direction of a wavefront at an interface between two different media so that the wavefront returns into the medium from which it originated. Common examples include the reflection of light, sound and water waves. The law of reflection says that for specular reflection the angle at which the wave is incident on the surface equals the angle at which it is reflected. Mirrors exhibit specular reflection. In acoustics, reflection causes echoes and is used in sonar.
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Photon
In physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation, and the force carrier for the electromagnetic force. The effects of this force are easily observable at both the microscopic and macroscopic level, because the photon has no rest mass; this allows for interactions at long distances.
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Monte Carlo method
Monte Carlo methods (or Monte Carlo experiments) are a class of computational algorithms that rely on repeated random sampling to compute their results. Monte Carlo methods are often used in computer simulations of physical and mathematical systems. These methods are most suited to calculation by a computer and tend to be used when it is infeasible to compute an exact result with a deterministic algorithm. This method is also used to complement theoretical derivations.
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