Ames Laboratory, Department of Energy, ISU, Ames, Iowa

SLALOM: A New Computer Graphics Method

This computer generated scene shows how grids of varying densities are used in computing the light reflected from each surface.

The Importance of SLALOM

SLALOM can solve the equations that describe the appearance of a virtual scene so that it can then be viewed from any position. This means no new computations are needed whenever the point of view changes. It is the first program that does this with no "guesses" while using a method that is physically correct and mathematically rigorous. SLALOM also allows parallel processing to be used; older methods did not. Each processor can work with a subset of the scene, working asynchronously with the best available information about the rest of the scene. Each doubling of the processing power improves the accuracy of the answer by about 40%.

The SLALOM method can be used for Virtual Reality, for architectural prototyping (leading to more efficient use of artificial and natural lighting in interiors), and for scientific visualizations with unprecedented realism. Once SLALOM has reached the necessary accuracy, one can "navigate" through the room or other geometry without recalculation; hence, it solves the biggest obstacle to the optical part of Virtual Reality simulations.


SLALOM was developed in the Scalable Computing Lab at Ames Laboratory on the Iowa State University campus soley through the support of HPCC funds provided by the Department of Energy's Office of Scientific Computing within the Office of Energy Research. It is an outgrowth of a performance analysis project that set new standards in the comparison of computers.

More information is available.

John Gustafson