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Concept# Metropolis light transport

Summary

Metropolis light transport (MLT) is a global illumination application of a variant of the Monte Carlo method called the Metropolis–Hastings algorithm to the rendering equation for generating images from detailed physical descriptions of three-dimensional scenes.
The procedure constructs paths from the eye to a light source using bidirectional path tracing, then constructs slight modifications to the path. Some careful statistical calculation (the Metropolis algorithm) is used to compute the appropriate distribution of brightness over the image. This procedure has the advantage, relative to bidirectional path tracing, that once a path has been found from light to eye, the algorithm can then explore nearby paths; thus difficult-to-find light paths can be explored more thoroughly with the same number of simulated photons. In short, the algorithm generates a path and stores the path's 'nodes' in a list. It can then modify the path by adding extra nodes and creating a new light path. While creating this new path, the algorithm decides how many new 'nodes' to add and whether or not these new nodes will actually create a new path.
Metropolis light transport is an unbiased method that, in some cases (but not always), converges to a solution of the rendering equation faster than other unbiased algorithms such as path tracing or bidirectional path tracing.
Energy Redistribution Path Tracing (ERPT) uses Metropolis sampling-like mutation strategies instead of an intermediate probability distribution step.

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Path tracing

Path tracing is a computer graphics Monte Carlo method of rendering images of three-dimensional scenes such that the global illumination is faithful to reality. Fundamentally, the algorithm is integrating over all the illuminance arriving to a single point on the surface of an object. This illuminance is then reduced by a surface reflectance function (BRDF) to determine how much of it will go towards the viewpoint camera. This integration procedure is repeated for every pixel in the output image.

Rendering equation

In computer graphics, the rendering equation is an integral equation in which the equilibrium radiance leaving a point is given as the sum of emitted plus reflected radiance under a geometric optics approximation. It was simultaneously introduced into computer graphics by David Immel et al. and James Kajiya in 1986. The various realistic rendering techniques in computer graphics attempt to solve this equation. The physical basis for the rendering equation is the law of conservation of energy.

Metropolis light transport

Metropolis light transport (MLT) is a global illumination application of a variant of the Monte Carlo method called the Metropolis–Hastings algorithm to the rendering equation for generating images from detailed physical descriptions of three-dimensional scenes. The procedure constructs paths from the eye to a light source using bidirectional path tracing, then constructs slight modifications to the path. Some careful statistical calculation (the Metropolis algorithm) is used to compute the appropriate distribution of brightness over the image.

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