CS 184 Administrative Details and Information

Spring, 2010

Instructor: Ravi Ramamoorthi
627 Soda
Office Hours: MW 2:30-4pm @ 627 Soda (after class)
TA: Fu-Chung Huang
545 Soda
Office Hours: M 12-1pm, Th 2-3pm
Sections: Tu 12-1pm, 1-2pm 405 Soda
TA: Daniel Ritchie
751 Soda
Office Hours: Tu 4-5pm
Sections: Tu 3-4pm 310 Soda
Questions?: cs184@imail.eecs.berkeley.edu
Newsgroup: ucb.class.cs184
For best results, follow this procedure if you have any questions:
  1. Come to the TA or Professor office hours.
  2. Post your question on the CS 184 news group
  3. Send email to the TAs. The TAs will likely only answer questions that are already posted on the class bboard, or are of a personal nature and too specific to be of interest to other students.
  4. Send email to the professor. The TA response time is likely to be faster than the professor's.

CS 184: Foundations of Computer Graphics

This course is an introduction to the foundations of 3-dimensional computer graphics. Topics covered include 2D and 3D transformations, Bézier and B-Spline curves for geometric modeling, interactive 3D graphics programming, computer animation and kinematics, and computer graphics rendering including ray tracing, shading, lighting and global illumination. There will be a strong emphasis on the mathematical and geometric aspects of graphics. This course is regularly offered every semester (the instructor may vary from offering to offering, as may the content somewhat).

This will be a hopefully fun course, but will require considerable implementation and understanding. This is especially so, since the required programming for the later assignments is difficult, and since graphics programming in general, and especially coding in OpenGL is a new skill. Debugging and working with graphical programs requires substantial work, which is difficult to replace by teaching it theoretically. The main advice is to START EARLY on the programming assignments and ask the instructor or TAs if you run into any difficulties; we are always ready to help. Most students should successfully complete the assignments, and find the course very rewarding and fun, with the ability to understand the theory behind and implement graphics programs.

Pre-requisites for the course: Solid C/C++ programming background. Linear algebra and some general mathematical skills. (If you only know Java, you may want to consider using this course as an opportunity to become familiar with C++.)

Note: This is the introductory graphics course. More advanced follow on courses (CS 294-13, to be re-numbered as CS 283) will generally be taught every year. Beyond this, there are a number of other CS 28x and CS 29x courses of interest, taught by the department, that you may consider in the next academic year.


MW 1 - 2:30pm in Soda 306.

Assignments and Exams

There are five projects, comprising primarily of programming. All projects are due by midnight on the dates specified below, unless explicitly stated otherwise. The first two assignments should be completed individually, and the third to fifth in groups of two. For more detail, see the assignments page.  In group assignments, you only need to hand in one copy of the assignment. In this case, it is your responsibility to make sure that you both contribute equally.  That is, we cannot accept "half" of an assignment from you if your partner failed to do his/her part. You can change partners between assignments 3, 4 and 5 if you want.

In addition, we will have a midterm and final. The midterm will be in class. The final will be in exam group 5, on Tuesday May 11, from 8-11am. We will go over some review questions in classes specially designated for that purpose. Doing well on the midterm/final will require following the material at the level of the content covered in the review sessions, as well as a basic understanding of course material.

Late Policy

Your grade will be whacked 15% (of your actual score) for each 12 hours late (or 30% per day). The late deduction is a step function. That is, you lose 15% of your score for being 1 min late or for being 11 hours 59 minutes late. You lose 30% of your score for being 12 hours and 1 minute late. After 3 days, no credit will be given. No extensions will normally be given, unless for very compelling personal reasons. Additionally, a stronger late policy may be followed for the final assignments to allow for timely grading. Also, if you do want an extension, you must ask for it as far in advance as possible, clearly stating the reason why; we will not usually give extensions close to the deadline or after the fact, except for clear emergencies and unforeseeable circumstances.


Your final grades will be computed by weighting the assignments tentatively as follows (instructor reserves the right to change final weighting).

HW # Written Programming
0 10 0
1 0 40
2 0 50
3 0 100
Midterm 80 0
4 0 100
5 0 75
Final 120 0


I would first like to note that it is difficult to find a suitable graphics textbook; they all have their disadvantages. For some of the topics, we will not be following any particular textbook. We will however, try to refer to the relevant textbook material in the lecture notes, or note that this material is not well covered in the book (and make the lecture slides complete). As far as what the course tests, and therefore what you need to focus on in the reading, it will be based on the lecture material. We note here some of the texts we recommend, along with commentary on the book's suitability.

If these books are not available in the campus bookstore or nearby stores, they are readily available with online booksellers like Amazon. Additionally, we will place these and other books as course reserves at the Engineering Library. Note also that previous editions of a textbook are generally adequate, but the chapters on this website will generally be with respect to the latest edition.

Required: Fundamentals of Computer Graphics

by Pete Shirley and Steve Marschner (3rd edition)

This is a fairly simple text. The third edition is considerably expanded and the chapters are with respect to that. The advantage is that it is easy to follow to get some understanding of the topics. The disadvantage is that the approach and content to the various topics may not quite follow the lectures, and some topics may be treated too simply or not very well at all. Most students like this textbook, and you should consider having it. However, it may not suffice well for all the material, and we will be closely following it only in the initial stages of the course. We will try to be explicit in lecture where we are and are not following the text. If we don't follow the text, we will try to prepare some notes, give out handouts, or make the lecture slides very explicit.

Optional: Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice

by Foley, van Dam, Feiner and Hughes

This is widely regarded as the bible of computer graphics, and is a comprehensive text that we will be referring to. If you have further interest in graphics, like are considering taking the more advanced courses next year, I would definitely recommend getting this. If not, I would still recommend being able to follow up in it, in case there are certain topics you want to see in more detail. The main disadvantage is the encyclopedic nature of the text, making the exposition quite complicated, that can go over the head for many students taking graphics for the first time. In many ways, the Shirley text is at the other extreme, and the course (hopefully!) tries to find a middle path.

Required: The OpenGL Programming Guide Seventh Edition (The Red Book)

by Shreiner, Woo et al.

Earlier Versions Available Online: http://www.opengl.org/documentation/red_book

This is a comprehensive tutorial on the Graphics API we will be using for most of the course. If you ever intend to write substantial graphics programs, you should have this book. If you don't buy it, you're probably going to be sharing someone else's, or trying to decipher sample code. Please note that you will be using this primarily as a reference, looking things up as and when you write code. The syllabus below refers to chapters that you will need to know, but that is more as a reference to what we will be covering. In practice, you will gain more by actually doing and looking up what you don't know, rather than just reading the red book end to end (although that's not bad either, if you have the time). Also please note that the latest edition involves many changes (as the graphics pipeline itself has evolved in recent years). We will not in general be focusing on all the new features, so an old edition is probably ok, but we will touch on some recent developments.  

Optional: Real Time Rendering Third Edition

by Moller and Haines

This is the best book available on techniques for creating interactive complex renderings.  It explains many of the techniques used by game creators, without focusing too much on the exact details of any one particular system ( like the "Black Art of { mac, windows, etc. } Game Programming" series of books ). This book will probably be most useful as a reference for the interactive OpenGL project. The authors of this book maintain a webpage at http://www.realtimerendering.com/ which is full of valuable information.

Optional: Computer Animation: Algorithms and Techniques

by Rick Parent

This is a useful reference for the animation lectures in the course, and for implementing assignment 4.

Optional: An introduction to ray tracing

by Andrew Glassner

This is a useful reference for implementing the raytracer in assignment 5. Some parts of this will be handed out in class. There are many newer textbooks on ray tracing and rendering, including Glassner's encyclopedic two-volume work on Principles of Digital Image Synthesis.

In addition to the above, a number of other basic and advanced texts have been placed on reserve in the engineering library, including


There will be 5 programming assignments. In the the first two assignments, we will provide a fairly complete skeleton of code to get you started. As the course progresses, you will be expected to write more and more of the assignments from scratch. For assignments 3-5, you will be relatively on your own. You may feel free to re-use code from previous assignments at any time, particularly to handle window setup and interaction.  Most of the assignments are based on OpenGL, a portable graphics library. Since everything about these assignments is portable, you can do them on any computer you want. However, we are only supporting the assignments for Windows. If you use another platform, you are largely on your own for sample solutions, compilation issues etc. and you must make sure HW 1 and HW 2 compile on our machines and you can demo HW 3- HW 5 for us. Avoid platform specific code, at least in HW1 and HW 2, like user interface widgets, since we need to be able to grade your code. If you don't have visual studio or an alternative compilation environment and platform, speak to the TA to get a copy. If there are other issues about where to work, again speak to the instructor or TA.

Collaboration Policy

Programming projects are to be implemented either individually (assignments 1 and 2) or in groups of 2 (assignments 3-5) from scratch, i.e., you should not derive solutions from existing sources or previous instances of this course. Discussion of programming projects is allowed (encouraged). Copying of solutions or code from other students, or from students who previously took this course is not allowed. If you do obtain substantial help from the instructor, TA or another student, you must document this in your program. A good guideline is that you must be able to explain and/or duplicate anything that you submit. Furthermore, you should in general not copy code from other sources. If in doubt, please ask.

Lecture schedule and assignment due dates

Broadly, the course is divided into 6 segments. Note that we will periodically assign lectures to reviewing problems and working out mathematical examples.

The first segment deals with the mathematics of transformations and viewing, telling you how to move and scale objects to place them correctly in the world. This is the basis for assignment 1. The second segment describes how to use Bezier and B-spline curves to interpolate points and create shapes. This is the basis for assignment 2. Together, these segments relate to modeling or creating models of the world you want to make a picture of. The third segment describes interactive 3D programming and OpenGL, the graphics API we will be using, and is the basis for assignment 3. Segment 4 describes how to make images once you have a geometric model of the world, discussing illumination and shading models. This is known as rendering or creating images of computer graphics models. It also covers the basics of writing a ray tracer, that can produce more compelling images than OpenGL. It forms the basis for assignment 4. Finally, we also describe advanced shading and global illumination models. There is no related programming project (though this topic will be continued if you take the graduate course next year). Segment 5 deals very briefly with animation and inverse kinematics. The final assignment 5 could be on global illumination, animation, or any of the other assignments or topics of your choice.

Readings are with respect to the Shirley text (third edition) unless otherwise noted. Note that the course (and midterms/final etc.) is based primarily on the material in lecture; we will not test you on supplementary reading material not covered in lecture. In all of the lectures, we will try to make explicit which sections of the chapters we cover, and how our coverage relates to that in the text and handouts.

The homework will generally be due by midnight on the day following what is listed here. Thus, Homework 0 is actually due by 11:59 pm on Tuesday, Jan 28 and so on. However, note that Homework 4 is due on Monday (Apr 26) itself (not on the following day Tue).



Due Related Reading
Jan 20 Overview of Computer Graphics, course
Jan 25 Vectors and Linear Algebra 2,5
Jan 27 Transformations 1 Homework 0 6
Feb 1 Transformations 2 6,7.2, 3.5 RTR (handout)
Feb 3 Viewing 3.5 RTR (handout)
Feb 8 No Lecture
Feb 10 Curves 1 (Daniel) Homework 1 (Optional) handout 4-5.1,8.1-3 of CAGD
Feb 17 Curves 2 (Optional) 15, polar forms paper
Feb 22 Review of curves Curves problems
Feb 24 OpenGL 1 GL pages 1-50+
Mar 1 OpenGL 2 Homework 2 GL chapters 3,7, early part of 9
Mar 3 OpenGL 3 GL 5,15
Mar 8 Review of Transforms Transform Problems
Mar 10 Review of Viewing/OpenGL HW 3 milestone Transform/OpenGL Problems
Mar 15 Ray Tracing Intro 4
Mar 17 Midterm
Mar 29 Ray Tracing Nuts and Bolts 1 Haines chapter (handout)
Mar 31 Ray Tracing Nuts and Bolts 2 Homework 3 Hanrahan chapter (handout)
Apr 5 Basic Shading and Texturing
Apr 7 Radiometry CW 2.6.2 handout
Apr 12 Global Illumination HW 4 milestone Handout
Apr 14 Radiosity Handout FvDFH 16.13.1-2
Apr 19 Catch up / Review
Apr 21 Review of RT/Global Illum
Apr 26 Animation Homework 4 (today) Handouts, (Optional) 17
Apr 28 Inverse Kinematics Homework 5 (due May 10) Handouts

Thanks to Greg Humphreys for the layout of these pages.