CISC440 S2016

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Course information

Title CISC440/640 Computer Graphics
Shortened URL
Description A first course in computer graphics covering fundamental concepts and techniques related to rasterization, textures, 2-D and 3-D transformations (including perspective projection), shading, hidden surface elimination, and anti-aliasing, as well as selected topics in modeling, animation, ray tracing, and global illumination. OpenGL will be used for programming; you should have some familiarity with C/C++ or be ready to learn it.
When Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2-3:15 pm
Where ISE 307
Instructor Christopher Rasmussen, 446 Smith Hall,
Office hours Mondays and Wednesdays, 11 am-12 pm
TA Bilin Sun,

TA office hours: Mondays and Wednesdays, 9-10 am, 201 Smith Hall

  • 60% 4 assignments worth 15% each. Each homework will be due about 2 weeks after being assigned (one is a little shorter, one a little longer)
  • 20% Midterm exam
  • 20% Final exam
  • 2% Extra credit for completing course evaluation

Graduate students will be given extra tasks to complete or features to implement on each homework, and extra questions to answer on each exam.

Programming assignments will be graded on the basis of correctness, efficiency, and originality. This is not an introductory programming class, so coding style is not critical. However, if you want partial credit for something that doesn't quite work, it needs to be well-commented and easy to follow.

For the overall course grade, a preliminary absolute mark will be assigned to each student based on the percentage of the total possible points they earn according to the standard formula: A = 90-100, B = 80-90, C = 70-80, etc., with +'s and -'s given for the upper and lower third of each range, respectively. Based on the distribution of preliminary grades for all students (i.e., "the curve"), the instructor may increase these grades monotonically to calculate final grades. This means that your final grade can't be lower than your preliminary grade, and your final grade won't be higher than that of anyone who had a higher preliminary grade.

I will try to keep you informed about your standing throughout the semester. If you have any questions about grading or expectations at any time, please feel free to ask me.

Academic policies Programming projects are due by midnight of the deadline day (with a grace period of a few hours afterward...after sunrise is definitely late). A late homework is a 0 without a valid prior excuse. To give you a little flexibility, you have 6 "late days" to use on homeworks to extend the deadline by one day each without penalty. No more than three late days may be used per assignment. Late days will automatically be subtracted, but as a courtesy please notify the instructor (and CC the TA) in an e-mail of your intention to use late days before the deadline. See submission instructions below.

The two exams will be closed book (i.e., no reference materials allowed). Unless otherwise instructed, you are responsible for all material covered up to the day of the exam, both from the assigned readings (everything in the Readings column of the Schedule below) and in lectures (excluding guest lectures).

Students can discuss problems with one another in general terms, but must work independently on programming assignments. This also applies to online and printed resources: you may consult them as references (as long as you cite them), but the words and source code you turn in must be yours alone. The University's policies on academic dishonesty are set forth in the student code of conduct here.


Textbook (required) Fundamentals of Computer Graphics (4th ed.) [Marschner in calendar below]

Steve Marschner and Peter Shirley

CRC Press, 2016

Textbook web site: Author (most useful thing there is link to course with relevant slides), Publisher

This book should be at the campus bookstore. Other ordering options:

  • Amazon: About $105 for new hardcover, $42 to rent physical book for semester, $88 to buy Kindle edition
  • CRC Press (the publisher): There are some e-book options here ranging from $77 to own it outright down to $49 to "rent" it for 180 days


OpenGL Key thing to note: We are using OpenGL 3.3 for programming! A lot of examples on the web are for older 2.x, so beware

Homeworks Assignment submissions should consist of a directory containing all code (your .cpp files, header files, makefile if applicable, etc.), any output data generated (e.g., images, movies, etc.), and an explanation of your approach, what worked and didn't work, etc. contained in a separate text or HTML file. Do not submit executables, .o files, or libraries, please! The directory you submit for each assignment should be packaged by tar'ing and gzip'ing it or just zip'ing it. The resulting file should be submitted through Sakai.

You may develop your OpenGL, C/C++ code in any fashion that is convenient--that is, with any compiler and operating system that you want--but you must avoid OS- and hardware-specific functions.


Note: The blue squares in the "#" column below indicate Tuesdays.

# Date Topic Notes Readings Assignments/slides
1 Feb. 9 Introduction Graphics background, course information Marschner, 1-1.4 slides
2 Feb. 11 2-D, 3-D Geometry Vector & matrix review, homogeneous coordinates, 2-D & 3-D transformations Marschner, 2.4, 5.2-5.2.2, 6-6.3 (skip 6.1.6, 6.2.1-6.2.2) slides
3 Feb. 16 3-D Geometry More 3-D transformations, camera manipulation & the view volume Marschner, 6.5-7.2 slides
4 Feb. 18 3-D Geometry Perspective projection, geometry pipeline, transformations with GLM Marschner, 7.3, 7.5; OpenGL tutorials #1 (including installation instructions), #3 slides

HW #1

5 Feb. 23

Register/add deadline Feb. 22

OpenGL/GLFW Program initialization, window creation, geometric primitives Marschner, 17-17.7, 17.9-17.11 slides
6 Feb. 25 OpenGL/GLFW Basic animation, user interface callbacks OpenGL tutorial #6 slides
7 Mar. 1 GPU programming Introduction to GLSL, vertex shaders vs. fragment shaders Marschner, 17.8; Orange book Chaps. 2-5 slides
HW #1 due
8 Mar. 3 Motion/simulation Particle systems, flocking Marschner, 16.7 slides
HW #2
9 Mar. 8 Hidden surface elimination Line and triangle clipping, backface culling, painter's algorithm, Z-buffering Marschner, 8.1.3-8.2.3, 8.4 slides
10 Mar. 10 Shading Radiometry: irradiance, radiosity, radiance, BRDFs Marschner, 10-10.2.1, 20-20.2 slides
11 Mar. 15 Shading Diffuse, specular reflection, Gouraud/Phong shading details Marschner, 10-10.2.2 slides
12 Mar. 17 Shading, rasterization OpenGL, GLSL shading methods; line drawing OpenGL tutorial #8; Marschner, 8.1-8.1.2 slides
HW #2 due March 18
13 Mar. 22 Midterm review slides
2014 midterm
Mar. 29 NO CLASS
Spring break
Mar. 31 NO CLASS
Spring break
15 Apr. 5 Textures Texture-mapping pipeline, bump & displacement mapping, environment maps Marschner, 11.2, 11.4 (homogeneous division material--not barycentric coords), 11.5 slides
Instructor away
16 Apr. 12
Withdraw deadline Apr. 11
Textures Shadow maps, magnification/minification Marschner, 11.1.3-11.1.4, 11.6-11.7

HW #3

17 Apr. 14 Textures OpenGL, GLSL details and examples OpenGL tutorial #5 slides
18 Apr. 19 Ray tracing Ray casting, intersection testing, shadow rays Marschner, 4 slides
19 Apr. 21 Ray tracing Reflections, refractions, distributed ray tracing for anti-aliasing Marschner, 4 slides
20 Apr. 26 Ray tracing Distributed ray tracing for soft shadows, glossy reflections, spatial data structures Marschner, 4, 12.3, 13.1, 13.4 slides
HW #3 due on Wednesday, April 27
21 Apr. 28 Global illumination Bidirectional ray tracing, photon mapping "Bidirectional Ray Tracing" paper by

P. Heckbert;
Photon mapping introduction, online demo, tutorial

HW #4
22 May 3 Noise Value/Perlin noise, fractal noise, applications; miscellaneous shader programming examples Marschner, 11.5.2-11.5.3, Orange book 15, H. Elias page slides
23 May 5 Shape modeling Bezier curves and surfaces, Catmull-Rom splines Marschner, 15-15.6.1 (ignore material on knots, Hermite form) slides
24 May 10 Shape modeling Subdivision, geometry shaders Marschner, 15.6-15.6.1 slides
Finish HW #4!
HW #4 due May 14
25 May 17 Final review slides
2008 final
Thursday, May 19
1-3 pm