Visibility in Computer Graphics

Jiri Bittner, Peter Wonka, Journal of Environment and Planning B, accepted for publication. available as technical report [TR-186-2-03-03]


Visibility computation is crucial for computer graphics from its very beginning. The first visibility algorithms in computer graphics aimed to determine visible surfaces in a synthesized image of a 3D scene. Nowadays there are many different visibility algorithms for various visibility problems. We propose a new taxonomy of visibility problems that is based on a classifi- cation according to the problem domain. We provide a broad overview of visibility problems and algorithms in computer graphics grouped by the proposed taxonomy. The paper surveys visible surface algorithms, visibility culling algorithms, visibility algorithms for shadow computation, global illumination, point-based and image-based rendering, and global visibility computations. Finally, we discuss common concepts of visibility algorithm design and several criteria for the classification of visibility algorithms.