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Foreword by Walter Cronkite  
Introduction - The National Science Foundation at 50: Where Discoveries Begin, by Rita Colwell  
Internet: Changing the Way we Communicate  
Advanced Materials: The Stuff Dreams are Made of  
Education: Lessons about Learning  
Manufacturing: The Forms of Things Unknown  
Arabidopsis: Map-makers of the Plant Kingdom  
Decision Sciences: How the Game is Played  
Visualization: A Way to See the Unseen
Environment: Taking the Long View  
Astronomy: Exploring the Expanding Universe  
Science on the Edge: Arctic and Antarctic Discoveries  
Disaster & Hazard Mitigation  
About the Photographs  
About the NSF  
Chapter Index  
Visualization: A way to see the unseen

Computer Graphics: Into
the Marketplace

Computer Graphics: Into the Marketplace - click for detailsThe advances that built on Ivan Sutherland's ground-breaking Sketchpad work at MIT would bring computer graphics out of the laboratory, off the military base, and into the commercial marketplace, creating a steadily growing demand for computer-generated images in a variety of fields.

Continuing technical developments and the widespread commercial adoption of the personal computer— both the IBM PC and the Apple computer—helped spur a demand so strong that computer graphics ceased to be an add-on to a computer's capability and became an integral feature of the computer itself. Today, entire generations are growing up with an exclusively graphics-based experience of computing.

Some of the advancing techniques along this route to the future were:

Wire Frame Drawing Programs and Boundary Representation Systems depict structures in three dimensions showing all the outlines simultaneously from various perspectives. These programs can recognize surfaces, erase hidden lines, and add shading.

Solid Modeling Systems define the interiors and edges, and surfaces of an object.

Constructive Solid Geometry Systems provide a library of pre-formed shapes that can be combined in additive and subtractive ways to create solid objects.

Fractal Geometry uses self-similar forms—where the structure of a small section resembles the structure of the whole—to geometrically simulate the intricacies of nature, such as patterns in tree bark, cracks in the mud of a dry riverbed, or the edges of leaves.

Ray Tracing Algorithms simulate the effect of light rays bouncing around a scene—illuminating objects, creating reflections, and defining areas of shadow. Ray-tracing often produces strikingly realistic images.

Image Mapping, also known as texture mapping, is a technique for wrapping two-dimensional patterns and images around three-dimensional models.

Spatial Texturing uses an automatically created three-dimensional pattern that is defined for a three-dimensional volume rather than a two-dimensional plan. With spatial texturing, also known as solid textures, you can cut a model of a block of wood in half and see the wood grain inside.

Electronic Paint Systems include tools that imitate the use of brush, oil, and canvas and provide a menu of choices for type of paint brush, color hue and intensity, and type of stroke.

Image Processing Programs enable users to edit and manipulate photographs and other images to create different effects.

Animation introduces the dimension of time and creates the illusion of motion.

Virtual Reality Systems create the illusion of real three-dimensional space through the use of three-dimensional graphics.

PDF Version
Visualizing Science in Action
Worth? Data Points
Art & Science? to Numbers
Staking the Pioneers: The 1960s - 1990s
Visualization: Back to the Future
Visualizing a Virtual Reality
Computer Graphics: A Competitive Edge
A Panoply of Applications
Computer Grapihics: Into the Marketplace
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