CS 4620 - Introduction to Computer Graphics

General Information


4620 requires solid linear algebra, but it’s okay to take it concurrently with 2940 if you have to. It is somewhat less work than CS 3110 - Data Structures and Functional Programming.

Topics Covered

  • Graphics Pipeline
  • Mesh Generation
  • OpenGL / GLSL
  • Texturing
  • Quaternions
  • Splines
  • Animation
  • Ray Tracing
    • Physically based ray tracing
    • Monte Carlo sampling
  • Basic Shading Models (Phong, Blinn Phong, etc)


3-4 homeworks: 4-6 hours a piece

3 projects: 10-15 hours a piece

Final raytracer project: 25 hours (broken into 2 parts)

In Spring 2018: 7 projects, split into homework and coding portions. Time investment was similar as before; final raytracer project probably didn’t take as long, though, depending on how well you understood the concepts.

General Advice

If you’re taking the class, it’s good to take the practicum as well because it’s not significantly more time (3 mid-sized projects) and you do some other cool stuff. You don’t really learn much new material (the class meets rarely and when it does, is usually just more office hours), but it will give you a better understanding of things discussed in lecture by having you implement them.


Graphics is a really fun and rewarding class. By nature, the final results can be shown to anyone and give a greater “cool factor” than say, explaining how you came up with a solution to something in Algorithms. A lot of people take CG for granted in movies, but every single pixel of those special effects scenes is calculated by a ton of complex math. This class gives a glimpse of how all of that is actually put together and created.

Past Offerings

Semester Time Professor Median Grade Course Page
Spring 2018 MWF 2:30-3:20 PM Steve Marschner N/A http://www.cs.cornell.edu/courses/cs4620/2018sp/
Spring 2017 MWF 2:30-3:20 PM Steve Marschner N/A http://www.cs.cornell.edu/courses/cs4620/2017sp/
Fall 2013 MWF 2:30-3:20 PM Steve Marschner N/A http://www.cs.cornell.edu/Courses/cs4620/2013fa/about.stm
Fall 2012 MWF 2:30-3:20 PM Kavita Bala A- http://www.cs.cornell.edu/Courses/cs4620/2012fa/about.stm
Fall 2011 MWF 2:30-3:20 PM Kavita Bala A- http://www.cs.cornell.edu/Courses/cs4620/2011fa/about.stm


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