Clustering for Glossy Global Illumination

Per H. Christensen*, Dani Lischinski, Eric J. Stollnitz, David H. Salesin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


We present a new clustering algorithm for global illumination in complex environments. The new algorithm extends previous work on clustering for radiosity to allow for nondiffuse (glossy) reflectors. We represent clusters as points with directional distributions of outgoing and incoming radiance and importance, and we derive an error bound for transfers between these clusters. The algorithm groups input surfaces into a hierarchy of clusters, and then permits clusters to interact only if the error bound is below an acceptable tolerance. We show that the algorithm is asymptotically more efficient than previous clustering algorithms even when restricted to ideally diffuse environments. Finally, we demonstrate the performance of our method on two complex glossy environments.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3-33
Number of pages31
JournalACM Transactions on Graphics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Algorithms
  • Clustering
  • Error bounds
  • Global illumination
  • Glossy reflectors
  • Hierarchy
  • I.3.7 [Computer Graphics]: Three-Dimensional Graphics and Realism - color, shading, shadowing, and texture
  • Importance
  • Radiance
  • Radiosity
  • Raytracing
  • Rendering


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