The Robotics Institute

RI | Seminar | February 24, 2006

Robotics Institute Seminar, February 24, 2006
Time and Place | Seminar Abstract | Speaker Biography | Speaker Appointments

A Frequency Analysis of Light Transport

Fredo Durand

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory









Time and Place

Mauldin Auditorium (NSH 1305)
Refreshments 3:15 pm
Talk 3:30 pm


We present a signal-processing framework for light transport. We study the frequency content of radiance and how it is affected by phenomena such as shading, occlusion, and travel in free space. This extends previous work that considered either spatial or angular dimensions, and offers a comprehensive treatment of both space and angle.

We characterize how the radiance signal is modified as light propagates and interacts with objects. In particular, we show that occlusion (a multiplication in the primal space) amounts in the Fourier domain to a convolution by the frequency content of the blocker. Propagation in free space corresponds to a shear in the space-angle frequency domain, while reflection on curved objects performs a different shear along the angular frequency axis. As described by previous work, reflection is a convolution in the primal space, and therefore amounts to a multiplication in the Fourier domain. Our extension shows how the spatial components of lighting are affected by this angular convolution.

We show that our signal-processing framework predicts the characteristics of interactions such as caustics, and the disappearance of the shadows of small features. Predictions on the frequency spectrum of the radiance function can then be used to control sampling rates or the choice of reconstruction kernels for rendering. Other potential applications include pre-computed radiance transfer and inverse rendering.

In collaboration with Nicolas Holzschuch, Cyril Soler, Eric Chan & Franois Sillion

Speaker Biography

Frédo Durand is an assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He received his PhD from Grenoble University (France) in 1999. He worked with Claude Puech and George Drettakis on both theoretical and practical aspects of 3D visibility. From 1999 till 2002, he has been a post-doc in the MIT Computer Graphics Group with Julie Dorsey, where he is now an assistant professor.

His research interests span most aspects of picture generation and creation. This includes realistic graphics, real-time rendering , non-photorealistic rendering, as well as computational photography. His recent emphasis is on the use of tools from signal processing and inspiration from perceptual sciences. He co-organized the first Symposium on Computational Photography and Video in 2005. He received a Eurographics Young Researcher Award in 2004, an NSF CAREER award in 2005 and a Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowship in 2005.

Speaker Appointments

For appointments, please contact Janice Brochetti (

The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.