Efficient and Accurate Sound Propagation Using Adaptive Rectangular Decomposition

Nikunj Raghuvanshi, Rahul Narain, Ming C. Lin
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill
IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Vol. 15, No. 5. (2009), pp. 789-801.


   title={Efficient and accurate sound propagation using adaptive rectangular decomposition},

   author={Raghuvanshi, N. and Narain, R. and Lin, M.C.},

   journal={Visualization and Computer Graphics, IEEE Transactions on},








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Accurate sound rendering can add significant realism to complement visual display in interactive applications, as well as facilitate acoustic predictions for many engineering applications, like accurate acoustic analysis for architectural design. Numerical simulation can provide this realism most naturally by modeling the underlying physics of wave propagation. However, wave simulation has traditionally posed a tough computational challenge. In this paper, we present a technique which relies on an adaptive rectangular decomposition of 3D scenes to enable efficient and accurate simulation of sound propagation in complex virtual environments. It exploits the known analytical solution of the Wave Equation in rectangular domains, and utilizes efficient implementation of Discrete Cosine Transform on the GPU to achieve at least a hundred-fold performance gain compared to a standard Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) implementation with comparable accuracy, while also being an order of magnitude more memory-efficient. Consequently, we are able to perform accurate numerical acoustic simulation on large, complex scenes in the kilohertz range. To the best of our knowledge, it was not previously possible to perform such simulations on a desktop computer. Our work thus enables acoustic analysis on large scenes and auditory display for complex virtual environments on commodity hardware.
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