Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG)



Publication Date



This paper describes a new volume rendering system for spectral/hp finite-element methods that has as its goal to be both accurate and interactive. Even though high-order finite element methods are commonly used by scientists and engineers, there are few visualization methods designed to display this data directly. Consequently, visualizations of high-order data are generally created by first sampling the high-order field onto a regular grid and then generating the visualization via traditional methods based on linear interpolation. This approach, however, introduces error into the visualization pipeline and requires the user to balance image quality, interactivity, and resource consumption. We first show that evaluation of the volume rendering integral, when applied to the composition of piecewise-smooth transfer functions with the high-order scalar field, typically exhibits second-order convergence for a wide range of high-order quadrature schemes, and has worst case first-order convergence. This result provides bounds on the ability to achieve high-order convergence to the volume rendering integral. We then develop an algorithm for optimized evaluation of the volume rendering integral, based on the categorization of each ray according to the local behavior of the field and transfer function. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our system by running performance benchmarks on several high-order fluid-flow simulations.