Edmondson, Paul Michael (2003-05). Hierarchical occlusion culling for arbitrarily-meshed height fields. Master's Thesis.
Many graphics applications today have need for high-speed 3-D visualization of height fields. Most of these applications deal with the display of digital terrain models characterized by a simple, but vast, non-overlapping mesh of triangles. A great deal of research has been done to find methods of optimizing such systems. The goal of this work is to establish an algorithm to efficiently preprocess a hierarchical height field model that enables the real-time culling of occluded geometry while still allowing for classic terrain-rendering frameworks. By exploiting the planar-monotone characteristics of height fields, it is possible to create a unique and efficient occlusion culling method that is optimized for terrain rendering and similar applications. Previous work has shown that culling is possible with certain regularly-gridded height field models, but not until now has a system been shown to work with all height fields, regardless of how their meshes are constructed. By freeing the system of meshing restrictions, it is possible to incorporate a number of broader height field algorithms with widely-used applications such as flight simulators, GIS systems, and computer games.