Stochastic Sampling in Computer Graphics

Robert L. Cook


Ray tracing, ray casting, and other forms of point sampling are important techniques in computer graphics, but their usefulness has been undermined by aliasing artifacts. In this paper it is shown that these artifacts are not an inherent part of point sampling, but a consequence of using regularly spaced samples. If the samples occur at appropropriate nonuniformly spaced locations, frequencies above the Nyquist limit do not alias, but instead appear as noise of the correct average intensity. This noise is much less objectionable to our visual system than aliasing. In ray tracing, the rays can be stochastically distributed to perform Monte Carlo evaluation of integrals in the rendering equation. This is called distributed ray tracing and can be used to simulate motion blur, depth of field, penumbrae, gloss, and translucency.

Available in ACM Transactions on Graphics, Volume 6, Number 1, January 1996.