CS 6620 - Fall 2019
Ray Tracing for Graphics

Example images generated by students who took this class in Fall 2017.

Instructor:Cem Yuksel (Office hours: by appointment, MEB 3116)
TA:Daqi Lin (Office hours: Monday, Friday: 2pm - 3:30pm, MEB 3115)
Time:Tuesday & Thursday @ 3:40pm - 5:00pm
Location:WEB 1248


This course covers fundamental concepts of rendering and ray tracing. Each student implements a ray tracer of his/her own. All the related theory and implementation details are discussed in the lectures. Therefore, the students do not need to have prior knowledge about computer graphics and prerequisites do not apply (this course can be taken without taking 5610 or 6610).

We begin with the basics of rendering and we build an extremely simple ray tracer. With each project we add a new feature to our ray tracers. To make sure that each project can be completed in a short amount of time, additional source code is provided when needed. We pay attention to implementation details during the lectures, so that the project codes not only work, but also have the right structure to easily add the new features of the upcoming projects. At the end of the semester, we get to have highly advanced ray tracers that are capable of generating realistic images using global illumination techniques. The course ends with the Teapot Rendering Competition.

Students can use the Canvas Discussion Board.

Course Objectives

The main objective of this course is to introduce students the fundamental concepts of image synthesis in computer graphics. At the conclusion of this course students will be able to:
  • Understand the stages of a general purpose rendering pipeline,
  • Implement ray tracing for image synthesis and lighting simulation,
  • Identify aliasing and sampling related problems in graphics, and
  • Obtain the necessary background knowledge for following the state-of-the-art advancements in rendering related research in computer graphics.

Schedule (subject to change)

WeekDateTopicProject Deadlines
1Aug 20Transformations and Camera Rays
Aug 22Sphere Intersection and Software Setup
2Aug 27LightsProject 1 deadline - Ray Casting
Aug 29Shading and BRDF
3Sep 3Ray Traced ShadowsProject 2 deadline - Shading
Sep 5Q&A Session
4Sep 10ReflectionsProject 3 deadline - Shadows
Sep 12Refractions
5Sep 17Ray Plane and Box IntersectionsProject 4 deadline - Reflections and Refractions
Sep 19Ray Triangle Intersection
6Sep 24Space PartitioningProject 5 deadline - Triangular Meshes
Sep 26Space Partitioning (cont.)
7Oct 1Textures and MappingProject 6 deadline - Space Partitioning
Oct 3Texture Sampling
8Oct 8— Fall Break —
Oct 10— Fall Break —
9Oct 15AntialiasingProject 7 deadline - Textures
Oct 17Reconstruction Filters
10Oct 22Depth of FieldProject 8 deadline - Antialiasing
Oct 24Motion Blur
11Oct 29Glossy SurfacesProject 9 deadline - Depth of Field
Oct 31Area Lights and Soft Shadows
12Nov 5Rendering Equation and Global Illum.Project 10 deadline - Soft Shadows and Glossy Surfaces
Nov 7Monte Carlo Sampling
13Nov 12Irradiance CachingProject 11 deadline - Monte Carlo GI
Nov 14Path Tracing
14Nov 19Photon MappingProject 12 deadline - Path Tracer
Nov 21Photon Mapping (cont.)
15Nov 26Final Gathering
Nov 28— Thanksgiving —
16Dec 3Adv. Global IlluminationProject 13 deadline - Photon Mapping
Dec 5Adv. Global Illumination (cont.)
Dec 10Teapot Rendering Competition
Time: 3:30-5:30pm
Location: LCR (MEB 3147)
Final Project


Students must prepare a project web page for each project, which should include at least one image rendered using his/her project code, clearly showing that the requirements of the project have been completed. This web page can have multiple images showing different aspects of the project. Each image must also have a render time next to it (as well as hardware information). The images on the project web pages must be in PNG format.

All project web pages of a student must be under the same web directory. The naming convention for the project web pages is prjN.html, where 1 ≤ N ≤ 14. Students should also prepare a 320x240 pixel thumbnail image for each project and put it in the same directory with the name convention prjN.jpg. For example, if the student's web directory is http://www.cs.utah.edu/~myname/courses/cs6620/, Project 1 submission should include:
http://www.cs.utah.edu/~myname/courses/cs6620/prj1.html and
as well as all the files that are linked within prj1.html. Students should pick a web directory and email the link to the instructor before the Project 1 deadline.

Students must also submit their source codes for each project via canvas. The project source codes should NOT be included on the project web pages or any publicly accessible web service. Students are highly encouraged to use C++ for their projects.

Deadlines and Late Submissions: The deadline for each project is at noon (12:01pm) on the date indicated on the schedule (see above). Late submissions suffer a 20% penalty and an additional 20% penalty is applied at each following class start time. Therefore, a project that is submitted two weeks after its deadline can only receive up to 20% of its total points. If a project is submitted more than two weeks later than its deadline, it will receive no points. To accommodate special circumstances, first three late penalties (i.e. up to 60% late penalty) of each student will be omitted. No late submission is accepted for the final project without prior permission from the instructor.

All projects are individual projects. Group projects are not permitted. Therefore, each student must write his/her own code. Collaboration between students is encouraged, but code sharing is not permitted. External libraries and source code can be used only for additional functionalities that are not core parts of the projects, and they should be clearly indicated with comments within the source code.


Projects 1-105 points
Projects 11-1310 points
Final Project20 points
TOTAL100 points

School of Computing Policies and Guidelines

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Safe Classroom Environment

In this class, derogatory comments based on race, ethnicity, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, (dis)ability status, age, citizenship, or nationality will not be tolerated, nor is it permissible to state one's opinion in a manner that silences the voices of others. Further, egregious disrespect, including, but not limited to, racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, etc. will not be tolerated.

University of Utah Disability Accommodation Policy

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2017 Teapot Rendering Competition Awards

Winner Audience Choice Award

Ian Mallett

Juror Choice Award Best in Class Award Student Choice Award

Daqi Lin

Juror Choice Award

Justin Alain Jensen

Juror Choice Award

Nathan Vollmer Morrical

Best in Class Award Student Choice Award

Qi Wu

Best in Class Award Student Choice Award

Benjamin Richard Draut