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Probabilistic visibility evaluation using geometry proxies

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Abstract

Evaluating the visibility between two points is a fundamental problem for ray-tracing and path-tracing algorithms. Ideally, visibility computations are organized such that a minimum number of geometric primitives need to be checked for each ray. Replacing complex geometric shapes by a simpler set of primitives is one strategy to control the amount of intersection calculations. However, approximating the original geometry introduces inaccuracies in e.g. shadow regions when shadow rays are intersected with the approximate geometry. This paper presents a theoretical framework for probabilistic visibility evaluation. When intersecting a shadow ray with the scene, we randomly select the original geometry, the approximated geometry, or one of several correction terms, to be tested. Not all shadow rays will therefore intersect the original geometry, but our method is able to produce unbiased images that converge to the correct solution. Although probabilistic visibility evaluation is an experimental idea, we show several example scenes that highlight the potential for future improvements.

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