Bibliographies      Research Papers      Radiosity History      Photometric File Formats      Utility Software

Books on Radiosity and Global Illumination

Radiosity: A Programmer's PerspectiveFREE BOOK

Radiosity: A Programmer's Perspective by Ian Ashdown (1994) is a 500-page undergraduate-level textbook on the mathematics of synthesizing photorealistic images using radiosity methods. It includes C++ source code for a fully-functional radiosity renderer that runs under MS-Windows. Out of print since 1998, the book is now available free (as in beer) from our client Lighting Analysts Inc. (Download ZIP file here). Chapter One, Measuring Light, is available here in Adobe PDF format.



Advanced Global illumination

Advanced Global Illumination by Philip Dutre, Philippe Bekaert and Kativa Bala (2003) is a 330-page graduate-level textbook on the mathematics of global illumination algorithms for realistic image synthesis, including stochastic path tracing, stochastic radiosity, Monte Carlo integration, and photon mapping.


Radiosity & Global Illumination

Radiosity & Global Illumination by Francois X. Sillion and Claude Puech (1994) is a 250-page graduate-level textbook on the mathematics of synthesizing photorealistic images using radiosity methods. It provides an excellent overview of advanced radiosity techniques and implementation details.



Rendering with Radiance by Greg Ward Larson and Robert Shakespeare (1998) is a 680-page book that serves as both a user's manual for the freely-available Radiance Lighting Simulation and Rendering System and a guide to developing lighting design and simulation software. It is available as a print-on-demand book from BookSurge.



Radiosity & Global Illumination

Real-Time Rendering (Second Edition) by Tomas Moller and Eric Haines (2002) is a 835-page book on algorithms and techniques of rendering realistic 3D images in real time. While it does not address radiosity methods per se, it is a well-written and indispensible guide for anyone who is interested in implementing computer graphics algorithms.



Realistic Ray Tracing, Second Edition by Peter Shirley and R. Keith Morley (2003) is a slim (222 pages) but wonderful book on the theory and techniques of realistic ray tracing. The authors have done an outstanding job of distilling the vast quantity of ray tracing literature into one succinct how-to manual that does not neglect the underlying mathematics.


Realistic Image Synthesis Using Photon Mapping by Henrik Wann Jensen (2001) is another slim (181 pages) but equally wonderful book on the theory and implementation of photon mapping techniques. If you need to simulate the full range of global illumination (diffuse interreflections, caustics, participating media, BRDFs, and more), you need this book.



Digital Lighting & Rendering by Jeremy Birns (2000) is a 290-page softcover book that presents the art and science of cinematic lighting techniques within the context of computer graphics rendering and animation. Well written and beautifully illustrated, this book is highly recommended for anyone interested in using global illumination techniques for professional animation and illustration.

Global Illumination Bibliographies

RADBIB is a comprehensive bibliography of radiosity and related global illumination papers, theses, articles, and books. It currently includes 3,125 references -- 70 new additions since its 13/02/18 release. This bibliography is available in BibTex format as RADBIB.BIB.

Also available is an abridged version of RADBIB.BIB called GITHESIS.BIB. This bibliography includes 356 references to radiosity and global illumination theses -- two new additions since its 13/02/18 release.

Financial support for the maintenance of these bibliographies is provided by byHeart Consultants Limited.

Research Papers

If you are looking for a research topic in global illumination, consider the possibilities of eigenvector radiosity. See the following papers for details:

Ashdown, I. 2001. Eigenvector Radiosity. MSc thesis, Department of Computer Science, University of British Columbia

Ashdown, I. 2002. Radiative Transfer Networks Revisited. Journal of the illuminating Engineering Society 30(2):38-51 (Summer)

Ashdown, I. 2003. Eigenvector Radiosity - Corrigendum

Ashdown, I. 2006. Simplifying Eigenvector Radiosity (UPDATED July 6th, 2008)

Ashdown, I. 2008. SVD Radiosity (unpublished).

LEDs Magazine published Accurate Modeling of LED Colors: A Scientific Approach in its October 2005 issue. This article describes how to represent light-emitting diode colors for solid-state lighting (SSL) applications in lighting design programs.

A Brief History of Radiosity

Radiosity in computer graphics is often thought of as a relatively recent innovation. After all, it was introduced by Cindy Goral et al. in 1984 at Cornell University, who derived it from a thermal engineerng technique of the same name that was popular in the 1960s. It is one of the cornerstones of global illumination techniques for physically realistic image rendering.

Change the name to "radiative transfer theory," however, and radiosity appears in the illumination engineering literature as early as 1926. Ziro Yamauti presented radiosity in terms of Fredholm integrals of the second kind, a mathematical formalism that did not appear in the computer graphics radiosity literature until its rediscovery by Paul Heckbert in 1991. Yamauti also proposed using finite difference equations to solve the discrete form of these integral equations.

Yamauti's discussion was mostly theoretical. However, it was quickly transformed into a formal engineering tool by H. H. Higbie, who published a practical technique in his 1934 book, Lighting Calculations. Unfortunately, it was an idea before its time. With only hand-cranked calculators to assist them, this precursor to today's radiosity algorithms was not widely practiced by illumination engineers.

One exception was the work done by Parry Moon and Domina Eberle Spencer at MIT in the 1940s. They used Higbie's technique (which they called the interreflection method) to study lighting in empty rooms. Credit for the first photorealistic images created using radiosity methods must go to Moon and Spencer -- they exhibited synthetic images of empty rooms with luminous ceilings at the 1946 National Techncal Conference of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. They calculated the luminance of each surface patch by hand, cut out paper squares from Munsell color charts, and pasted them together to form their images. These were then photographed for presentation.

One of these synthetic color images (shown below) was reproduced in their 1948 book, Lighting Design (Addison-Wesley). The famous Cornell Box notwithstanding, this is the very first radiosity image. (The lack of shadows can be attributed to the soft lighting from the luminous ceiling, and possibly the limited patience of graduate students with hand-cranked calculators!)

Moon & Spencer (1948) - The First Radiosity Image

Photometric File Formats

"With a growing variety of computer software programs with applications specific to the lighting industry, the issue of data file format compatibility among different sftware systems is becoming increasingly important. This is particularly the case with data files containing photometric information (candela values and associated data and desciptions) on specific luminaires. Outlined herein is a recommended standard file format for photometric data that permits data files to be transferred among producers and users of the data."

These remarks were written in 1986 by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America Computer Committee in their introduction to IES LM-63-1986, "IES Recommended Standard File Format for Electronic Transfer of Photometric Data." Prior to its publication, each lighting fixture manufacturer had their own data file format (or none at all).

A standard file format was obviously just what the lighting industry needed. Today, we have ... sigh ... many national and international standards to choose from. The most commonly used formats are:

CIBSE TM-14:1988 (CIBSE Standard File Format for the Electronic Transfer of Luminaire Photometric Data)

The CIBSE TM-14 photometric data file format is used extensively by British lighting manufacturers.

CIBSE Technical Memorandum TM-14 is published by the Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers (

CIE 102-1993 (Recommended File Format for Electronic Transfer of Luminaire Photometric Data)

CIE 102-1993 was developed by the Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage (International Commission on Illumination) as an world-wide standard. However, we are not aware of any lighting manufacturers that offer CIE 102-format photometric data files.

CIE Publication 102-1993 is published by the Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage ( However, it must be ordered through the nearest CIE National Committee representative -- see the CIE Web site for details.


The EULUMDAT photometric data file format was developed by Axel Stockmar of LCI Software Engineering (Berlin, Germany). Its title is "Proposal for a Data Format for Exchange of Luminaire Data (Interior, Exterior, and/or Road Lighting Luminaires) Under the Operating Systems MS-DOS 2.x/3.xx Under Condition of Unequivocal Coordination Between Luminaire and Data Set."

There is no official documentation for the EULUMDAT file format. This is quite surprising, as it is the de facto standard for European lighting manufacturers. We therefore offer an English translation of the original German file format specification (which is currently unavailable on the Web):

EULUMDAT Photometric Data File Format Specification

BSR/IESNA LM-63-2002 (IESNA Standard File Format for Electronic Transfer of Photometric Data)

BSR/IESNA LM-63-2002 is the only photometric data file format used in North America. It was first introduced in 1986 as IES Publication LM-63-1986, "IES Recommended Standard File Format for Electronic Transfer of Photometric Data." It was revised in 1991 and again in 1995. The current version was accepted as an approved ANSI standard in August 2002.

BSR/IESNA Publication LM-63-2002 is available from the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (

Thinking Photometrically II - Lightfair International 2001 Workshop Notes

On May 29, 2001, byHeart Consultants CTO Ian Ashdown presented the "Thinking Photometrically II " workshop at Lightfair International in Las Vegas, NV. The objectives of this three-hour workshop were:

  1. An in-depth understanding of photometric reports, including IESNA LM-63, CIBSE TM-14, and EULUMDAT file formats.
  2. An explanation of the photometric measurement process and its relation to the accuracy and reliability of photometric reports.
  3. A non-technical analysis of lighting design software algorithms, with particular emphasis on understanding how they work and how to use them properly to produce photometrically accurate predictions and physically correct renderings.

The 46-page handout from this workshop is now available for downloading here.

Utility Software

EULUMCNV (Freeware EULUMDAT to IES LM-63-1995 Conversion Utility)

EULUMCNV.EXE (Version 1.00C) is a small (52 KB) freeware utility program (MS-DOS) that accepts EULUMDAT photometric data files and converts them into one or more equivalent IESNA LM-63-1995 photometric data files. To run the program, enter EULUMCNV <filename> at the MS-DOS prompt (where filename is the name of an EULUMDAT file) or EULUMCNV to display the help screen.

FullSpectrum (Freeware Spectral Reflectance Distribution Estimator)

FULLSPECTRUM (Version 1.00A) is a freeware utility program (MS-Windows) that accepts RGB values for a given color and generates a physically plausible spectral reflectance distribution that has the same chromaticity and reflectance. The displayed information can be saved to an XML file for different applications.

The program is based on a mathematical technique called Principal Component Analysis (PCA), which is described in Fairman, H. S., and M. H. Brill. 2004. "The Principal Components of Reflectances," Color Research and Application 29(2):104-110 (April).

FullSpectrum may be freely used to personal and commercial purposes.

H32_gendaylit (Perez All-Weather Sky Model Source Code - Freeware)

H32_gendaylit.cpp (Version 1.00A) is a completely rewritten version of gendaylit, a software module included with the RADIANCE lighting design and simulation program. While gendaylit  is used for calculating diffuse and direct daylight components in accordance with the Perez All-Weather Sky Model, it is known to have behavioral quirks that make its use with RADIANCE occasionally unreliable. H32_gendaylit has been written in accordance with modern software engineering practices and validated against the original Perez et al. papers published in Solar Energy. The C source code has been released for free personal and commercial use.

An unpublished validation study of H32_gendaylit (“Perez All-Weather Sky Model Analysis”) is available here.

IES_View (Freeware IESNA LM-63-xx File Viewer)

IES_View  is a small freeware utility program (MS-Windows) that displays IESNA LM-63-xx photometric data files as photometric solids. For a full-featured photometric data file editor, we recommend Lighting Analysts’ Photometric Toolbox.


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