Computer Graphics (CMU 15-462/662)
CMU 15-462/662, Spring 2021
Date/Time: Mon/Wed 10:40am-12:00pm
Location: Remote
Instructor: Nancy Pollard
Course Description

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to computer graphics. Focuses on fundamental concepts and techniques, and their cross-cutting relationship to multiple problem domains in graphics (rendering, animation, geometry, imaging). Topics include: sampling, aliasing, interpolation, rasterization, geometric transformations, parameterization, visibility, compositing, filtering, convolution, curves & surfaces, geometric data structures, subdivision, meshing, spatial hierarchies, ray tracing, radiometry, reflectance, light fields, geometric optics, Monte Carlo rendering, importance sampling, camera models, high-performance ray tracing, differential equations, time integration, numerical differentiation, physically-based animation, optimization, numerical linear algebra, inverse kinematics, Fourier methods, data fitting, example-based synthesis.

Nancy Pollard
[nsp at cs]
Smith Hall 227
Office hours: email to schedule
Your fun and helpful TAs:
Oscar Dadfar
[odadfar at andrew]
Office hours:
Thursday 3-5pm
Location: See Piazza
Anne He
[afhe at andrew]
Office hours:
Monday 7-9pm
Location: See Piazza
Emma Liu
[emmaliu at andrew]
Office hours:
Wednesday 6-8pm
Location: See Piazza
Ryan Po
[rlpo at andrew]
Office hours:
Monday 7-9pm
Location: See Piazza
Maxwell Slater
[mjslater at andrew]
Office hours:
Saturday noon-2pm
Location: See Piazza
Hesper Yin
[hyin2 at andrew]
Office hours:
Wednesday 6-8pm
Location: See Piazza
As a policy, we ask that you please do not email TAs directly for help with assignments, grading, etc. TAs can be contacted either through Piazza or during office hours.

Course prerequisites are (15-213, 21-259, and 21-240) or (15-213, 21-259, and 21-241) or (18-213 and 18-202). Basic vector calculus and linear algebra will be an important component of this course. Previous exposure to basic C/C++ programming is very helpful as course programming assignments will involve significant implementation effort.


There is no required textbook for 15-462, though a variety of books may provide good supplementary material:

Steve Marschner and Pete Shirley
Fundamentals of Computer Graphics. A K Peters, 2015
[ On Amazon ]

John F. Hughes, Andries van Dam, Morgan McGuire, David F. Sklar, James D. Foley, Steven K. Feiner, and Kurt Akeley
Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice
[ On Amazon ]

Matt Pharr and Greg Humphreys
Physically Based Rendering: From Theory to Implementation
[ On Amazon ]
This book (PBRT) is the book for learning about modern ray tracing techniques. It has a great website with full source code online for an advanced physically-based ray tracer. The textbook is online as well. It even won an oscar for its impact on the film industry!

Discussion Boards

We will be using Piazza for announcements. The 15-462/662 Piazza page is located here.


(15%) Written Assignment (Assignment 0). About once per week, you will be assigned a short ''mini homework'' assignment (just a few questions) that reinforces the most essential concepts. At the beginning of the semester, you will also complete some written exercises (Assignments 0.0 and 0.5) reviewing linear algebra and vector calculus. Assignments 0.0 and 0.5 can be submitted through Autolab. All mini homework written homework can be submitted via GradeScope; mini homeworks will be released on Mondays and must be submitted before the beginning of the lecture period on the following Monday. To mitigate potential absences (sick days, etc.), students can omit up to two mini homeworks without penalty. Students are encouraged to discuss concepts with their peers, on Piazza, and/or in office hours. Final homework answers must be written independently and individually for Assignments 0.0 and 0.5. Mini homeworks can be done in groups of up to three students if desired.

(60%) Programming Assignments. Students will complete four programming assignments; each assignment will be worth 25% of the programming component of the course, or 15% of the overall course grade. Most assignments will be done individually; some will have the option to work with a partner.

(20%) Midterm / Final. There will be a midterm and a final, each worth 10% of the overall course grade. Both exams will cover the cumulative material seen in the course so far.

(5%) Class Participation. At the discretion of the instructors, based on consistent attempts at in-class comments, website comments, and other contributions to the class.

Late hand-in policy. Each student is allotted a total of five late-day points for the semester. Late-day points are for use on the first three programming assignments only. Late-day points work as follows:

The dates on the front page are the official due dates. If you find conflicting information elsewhere (e.g., on Piazza, in-class, talking to a TA...), you should always assume that the assignment is actually due on the date stated on the front page of the course web site. (But please let us know if something seems totally wrong! ;-))

Collaboration Policy

Students in 15-462 are absolutely encouraged to talk to each other, to the TAs, to the instructors, or to anyone else about course assignments. Any assistance, though, must be limited to discussion of the problems and sketching general approaches to a solution. Each student should write their own code and produce their own writeup. Consulting another student's solution is prohibited and submitted solutions may not be copied from any source. These and any other form of collaboration on assignments constitute cheating. If you have any question about whether some activity would constitute cheating, just be cautious and ask the instructors before proceeding!

If you are caught cheating, you will get a zero for the entire course (not just the assignment). Also, if two identical assignments are handed in, both students will be accountable for cheating (no questions asked). So please be careful to ensure that nobody is copying your work!

You may not supply code, assignment writeups, or exams you complete during 15-462/662 to other students in future instances of this course or make these items available (e.g., on the web) for use in future instances of this course (just as you may not use work completed by students who've taken the course previously). Make sure to make repositories private if you use public source control hosts like github.