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Andrew Glassner wrote another book, Deep Learning: From Basics to Practice. It’s two volumes, find it on Amazon here and here. It is meant as a full introduction to the topic, 1650 pages of text (with an additional 90 page glossary at the end). It uses about 1000 figures to build up mental models of how the various algorithms and processes work, and explains how to use the popular Keras neural net API with Python. There’s a free sample chapter, on backpropagation, at his site. I’ve read about a quarter of the book and look forward to getting to “the meat” – Glassner lays the groundwork with chapters on probability, test data and analysis, information theory, and other relevant topics before plunging into deep learning itself. He aims to be accessible to math-averse readers, but does not dumb down the material. While the writing style is informal and approachable, it sometimes takes a bit of work to absorb, which is as it should be.

Full disclosure: I’m friends with Andrew and helped review a portion of the book. I’ve received no pay, and bought the books for my own education, as they look to be useful. I’m impressed by his dedication in writing such a tome, 20 months of labor, working through a large number of academic papers (each chapter ends with a set of references, along with URLs). From past works, I feel confident that what I’m going to read is factually correct and written in a clear fashion.

If you already know about the topic and are lecturing on the subject, he’s made all the figures free to download and use under Fair Use, along with his Python/Jupyter notebooks for all examples. Here’s a figure from the style transfer section of Chapter 28.

Style Transfer

My only regret is there’s no back cover (e-books don’t need them), for relevant quotes from famous people. I even suggested a few:

  • “With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon.” – Elon Musk (source)
  • “I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” – Stephen Hawking (source)
  • “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia but for all of mankind… Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” – Vladimir Putin (source)

Wouldn’t you want to read a book explaining the methods that will bring about the downfall of our civilization? Of course, they mean general intelligence, not the specialized tasks deep learning is aimed at. Books such as Incognito show how little we know of our own internal workings, how consciousness is just a small part of what the brain’s about. It’s hard to imagine we’re going to suddenly crack the problem of creating general intelligence any time soon, let alone create a runaway paperclip maximizer.

This existential threat feels way overblown, something that makes for great movies, sort of like how elevators go into free fall in Hollywood but never in real-life (problem was essentially solved a century ago). I saw Steven Pinker give a talk last night (his new book seems cheery, nice review here), and he noted that nuclear war and climate change catastrophes are much more real and important than fictitious runaway AIs. (Fun fact: Pinker was once an assembly language programmer.) His opinion piece is a great read, pointing out the dangers of apocalyptic thought. But I digress…

So, whether you’re waiting for the end of the world or for the Singularity (or both), Glassner’s book looks to be a good one to read in the meantime to get a grounding in this old-yet-new field and learn how to use deep learning systems available (for free!). Oh, and the two volumes are ridiculously cheap, and I find I can even read them on my cell phone.

More stuff:

  • New interactive 3D graphics books at SIGGRAPH 2015: WebGL Insights, GPU Pro 6 (Kindle right now, hardcover in September). Let me know if I missed anything (see full list here, which also includes links to Google Books previews for these new books).
  • Updated book: 7th edition of the OpenGL SuperBible. I would guess that, with Vulkan coming down the pike, and Apple going with Metal and no longer developing OpenGL (it’s back in 2010 at 4.1 in Mavericks), this will be the final edition. Future students having to learn Vulkan or DirectX 12, well, that won’t be much fun at all…
  • I mentioned yesterday how you can download the SIGGRAPH 2015 Proceedings for free this week. There’s more, in theory. Some of the links there have nothing as of right now. The Posters are worth a skim, especially since I didn’t see them at SIGGRAPH. I also liked the Studio PDF. It starts with a bunch of single-page talks that are fun to snack on, followed by a few random slidesets. Emerging Tech also has longer descriptions than on the ETech page (which has more pics and videos, however). If you gotta catch ’em all, there’s also a PDF for Panels.
  • There have been many news articles recently about not viewing screens at bedtime. Right, sure. Michael Herf (former CTO at Picasa) is the president at f.lux, one company that makes screens vary in overall spectra during the day to ameliorate the problem. He pointed me at a useful-to-researchers bit: their fluxometer site, with spectra for many different displays, all downloadable.
  • Oh, and related, a tip from Michael: Pantone stickers with differing colors (using metameric failure) under different temperature lights, so you can ensure you’re showing work under consistent lighting conditions.
  • I was impressed by HALIDE, an MIT licensed open source project for writing high performance image processing code (including GPU versions) from scratch. Most impressive is their case study for local Laplacian filters (p. 28), showing great performance with considerably less code and time coding vs. Adobe Photoshop’s efforts. Google and others use it extensively (p. 32).
  • Path tracing is all the rage for the film industry; the Arnold renderer started it (AFAIK) and others have followed suit. Here’s an entertaining path trace of interior lighting for a Minecraft scene using the free Chunky path tracer. SPP is samples per pixel:

Chunk progressive render

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Really, the title says it all, the book GPU Pro 5 is shipping. Sadly, there’s no “Look Inside” for the book on Amazon; I’ll hope they at least put the Table of Contents there. You can find a rough Table of Contents on the CRC site; rough in that you can’t see the number of pages for each article. A few articles are quite lengthy: Physically Base Area Lights is 34 pages long, Hi-Z Screen-Space Cone-Traced Reflections is an incredible 44. The rest are in the 10-20 page range.

You can get a taste of the book at the GPU Pro blog, it has previews of a large number of the articles. At $70 this is not a casual purchase, but if you’re a practitioner and just one article saves you 2 hours, the book’s more than paid for itself.

Me, I was amused to see the following, a model from Morgan McGuire’s high-quality model repository – hey, that’s from our world! (And you thought I was done with Minecraft references here.)


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Naty just noticed that our latest edition is up on Google Books. It’s the usual deal, about 20% of the book is excerpted. Between this and Amazon’s Look Inside, a fair bit of the book is at your fingertips.

By the way, if you are the author of an out-of-print book, please do get it 100% up on Google Books, if you can. Even if it’s dated, it captures where the field was at a particular time – at the least you’re helping future archaeologists. First step is to get the rights back. Contact your publisher and ask. It’s not a high priority for any of them, but they usually have no reason to hold onto the rights and will freely return these, or so I’m told. After that, well, I’ve personally never done step two, but I’d hope it’s not an arduous process to get Google Books to list it. If anyone has experience in this area, please do speak up.

In other news, the Amazon Stock Market for our book had a sudden uptick. Interestingly, Barnes and Noble kicked its price up the same week. Just a coincidence, I’m sure. The May 10th uptick was no doubt due to Mother’s Day and the busy summer reading season; our book is a chick magnet when casually left out on your beach blanket.

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RTR in 3D

All of Google Books are in 3D today, even the excerpts from our second edition:

RTR in 3D

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Bring On the Errors!

We just found out that we’re about due for a second printing of “Real-Time Rendering, 3rd Edition.” A new printing means we can correct small errors. So, please, let us know of any mistakes or glitches you’ve found in the book, no matter how minor. Our list of known corrigenda (fancy name for errors) is here, and the very minor errors here. Due date is April 13th.

A demo of the game Just Cause 2 is available on Steam today. What’s interesting is that this is the third DirectX 10-only game to be released. There have been any number of DirectX 10 enhanced games, but until a few months ago there was just one DirectX 10-only game release, Stormrise, a mediocre game released in March 2009. Shattered Horizon then came out in November from Futuremark, who are known more for their graphics benchmarks. Just Cause 2 is a sequel, and distributed by a well-known publisher. Humus describes the logic in going DirectX 10-only.

I’m looking forward to see how DirectX 11’s DirectCompute gets used in commercial applications. Perhaps the day there’s a DirectX 11-only game of any significance is the day we need to start writing a fourth edition. Let’s see: DirectX 10 was released November 2006 with Vista, so it took about three and a quarter years for an anticipated game to be released that was DirectX 10-only (and even now it’s considered dangerous by many to do so). DirectX 11 was released in October 2009, so if the same rule holds, then we’ll need to start writing in February 2013. Pre-order today!

Even now, 13% of Steam gamers have only SM 2.0. Games like World of Warcraft and Left 4 Dead 2 don’t require more, for example. So what’s the magic percentage where the AAA games decide to set the minimum level to the next shader model? I don’t recall it being much of a deal between shader model 2.0 and 3.0 games; there was a little hype, but I think this was because going from SM 2.0 to 3.0 involved just a card upgrade, vs. an OS upgrade. Which is funny, in that an OS upgrade is usually cheaper than a new GPU, but I think it’s also because it’s more critical, like a heart transplant vs. a cornea transplant.

Poking around, I found the interesting graphs below. I’m sure games have been left off, and some are miscategorized, e.g. Cryostatis is the only one under SM 4.0, and it doesn’t require DirectX 10. But, let’s assume this data is semi-reasonable; I’m guessing the games are categorized more by a “recommended configuration” than a minimum. So Shader Model 1.x game releases (and remember, 1.x was pretty darn limited) peaked in 2006, 2.0 peaked in 2007 but outnumbered 3.0 until 2009. SM 3.0 hasn’t peaked yet, I’d say (ignore 2010 and 2011 graph values at this point, of course). Remember that SM 2.0 hardware came out around 2002, so it peaked 5-6 years later and still was strong 7 years later (and perhaps longer, we’ll see). SM 3.0 came out in 2004, and seems likely to continue to be strong through 2010 and into 2011. 4.0 came out in 2006, so I’d go with it peaking in 2011-2012 from just staring at these charts. Which entirely ignores the swirl of other data—Vista and Windows 7, Xbox trends, GPU trends, blah-di-blah—but it’ll be interesting to see if this prediction is about right. (Click on a graph for the lists of games for that shader model.)

Shader Model 1.x

Shader Model 2.0

Shader Model 3.0

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… at least judging from an email received by Phil Dutre which he passed on. Key excerpt follows:

Dear Customer,

As someone who has purchased or rated Real-Time Rendering by Tomas Moller, you might like to know that Online Interviews in Real Time will be released on December 1, 2009.  You can pre-order yours by following the link below.

With a title-finding algorithm of this quality, Amazon appears to be in need of more CS majors.

Don’t fret, by the way, I’ll be back to pointing out resources come the holidays; things are just a bit busy right now. In the meantime, you can contemplate Morgan McGuire’s gallery of real photos that appear to have rendering artifacts or look like computer graphics. It’s small right now – send him contributions!

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SMOG Results

My wife just told me about the SMOG readability formula, which is evidently widely used. “SMOG” stands for Simple Measure of Gobbledygook. It looks for the number of polysyllabic words (3 syllables or more) used in a document. The square root of the result of dividing the number of polysyllabic words by the number of sentences is used to derive a readability grade level; read more on Wikipedia.

I ran the calculator here on a few passages in our book (those without equations, which I thought would throw the calculator off): Deferred Shading, Fresnel Equation, Scene Graphs, and the final chapter. Scene Graphs was simplest, at 12.56, Fresnel hardest, at 14.1. On average the level was a bit above 13, meaning College Freshman level. Pieces such as this one weigh in at 17.12. I took a piece of text from Hearn and Baker’s old Computer Graphics, C Version, 2nd Edition, on Fractals, and it came up as 14.47. So our book’s no Hop on Pop, but it’s at least not horrifically hard and seems in the ball park for our target audience.

By the way, this post’s SMOG grade is 11.21.


A professor contacted us about whether we had digital copies of our figures available for use on her course web pages for students. Well, we certainly should (and our publisher agrees), and would have done this awhile ago if we had thought of it. So, after a few hours of copying and saving with MWSnap, I’ve made an archive of most of the figures in Real-Time Rendering, 3rd edition. It’s a 34 Mb download:

Update: preview and download individual figures on Flickr

This archive should make preparation a lot more pleasant and less time-consuming for instructors, vs. scanning in pages of our book or redrawing figures from scratch. Here’s the top of the README.html file in this archive:

These figures and tables from the book are copyright A.K. Peters Ltd. We have provided these images for use under United States Fair Use doctrine (or similar laws of other countries), e.g., by professors for use in their classes. All figures in the book are not included; only those created by the authors (directly, or by use of free demonstration programs, as listed below) or from public sources (e.g., NASA) are available here. Other images in the book may be reused under Fair Use, but are not part of this collection. It is good practice to acknowledge the sources of any images reused – a link to we suspect would be useful to students, and we have listed relevant primary sources below for citation. If you have questions about reuse, please contact A.K. Peters at [email protected].

I’ve added a link to this archive at the top of our main page. I should also mention that Tomas’ Powerpoint slidesets for a course he taught based on the second edition of our book are still available for download. The slides are a bit dated in spots, but are a good place to start. If you have made a relevant teaching aid available, please do comment and let others know.

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