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), so from our experiences building systems in this area, we can distill these experiences into a specific set of system requirements.These requirements may not be obvious to readers who have not spent considerable time thinking about or building applications in this space.SIGGRAPH 2016 had an entire technical papers session on domain specific languages (DSLs) for graphics and simulation, and in 2018 an entire special issue of TOG was dedicated to the design of modern production rendering systems.
In some areas of computer graphics, it is common for problem inputs and outputs to be well defined.
The challenge is that the problem itself is hard to solve!
) and GPU vendors wanted flexibility to rapidly evolve GPU hardware implementations.
These goals were quite different from those facing the creators of prior shading languages for offline renderers and were ultimately addressed with an approach that was basically "C for graphics hardware", instead of a graphics-specific shading language like RSL.
To improve developer productivity, there was a need to raise the level of abstraction for programming early GPU hardware.
Doing so was challenging because developers expected the performance transparency of low-level abstractions (the reason to use GPUs was performance!The column also established global lighting effects as an important non-goal, since the authors' experiences at Pixar suggested that global effects could often be reasonably approximated with local computations using texture mapping.Example 2: A decade later Bill Mark articulated a complex set of design goals for Cg.We tend to call these "contributions", a term I've increasingly come to appreciate as it embodies what a good paper does for the field.For example: The reader learned something new: As with all good research papers, the intellectual contribution of a systems paper is much more in the ideas and wisdom the paper contains, and much less about the specific artifact (the implementation) it describes.Improving this understanding will make the graphics community better equipped to evaluate and disseminate its valuable systems results.With this article, I hope to contribute to our shared understanding of (graphics) systems research principles.Regardless of area, I suspect the lists would be similar.Great papers teach us something we didn't know about our field: either they contain an idea that we had never thought about, make us think differently (or more clearly) about a concept we thought we knew, or introduce a hard-to-create artifact (or tool) that is useful to making future progress.During a SIGGRAPH PC meeting, I've heard a committee member disparagingly comment: "I don't believe there is novelty here, maybe it's a good systems paper." And from a recent SIGGRAPH post-rebuttal discussion post: "This is clearly a systems paper rather than a research contribution." This is not an issue of whether systems research has a place in the graphics community. ) Rather, these comments suggest that both graphics papers authors and reviewers hold a misunderstanding of the intellectual value of graphics systems research.Understanding the key principles and values of systems research thinking is important to system designers that wish to communicate their findings and for reviewers evaluating those results.