Computer Graphics Final Project
Our final project for my computer graphics class was to create a raytraced video at least one minute in length. Working with three other studends and greatly expanding upon raytracing code we had been developing throuought the entire semester, we created a fun, colorful video of a surfer at a beach complet with sand, waves, trees, a beach umbrella, and a beach ball being tossed between two people. Of course it’s not just any ordinary surfer: our professor required that our project include reflections, so our video is none other than THE Silver Surfer showing off his skills.
The project was written in C++ and gave us the opportunity to learn all about the intricacies of ray tracing and computer graphics. Despite being a simple raytracer by almost any standards, our 60 second video rendered at a resolution of only 640x480 took 27 computers 9 hours to render. This project definitely made us appreciate all the work that goes into big-budget computer generated films.
We still have our final video, a 7.5MB .avi file encoded using H.264 (use VLC!). Additionally, I’ve taken some concepts from the source code and put them in my own raytracer. It’s not as powerful, but it’s one of those projects I always want to go back and work on more someday.
Rubik’s Cube Solver
Artificial Intelligence Coding Assignment
One of the projects for my class on artificial intelligence required us to build a Rubik’s Cube solver. This was a very fun project since the problem space for the Rubik’s Cube is enormous. Of course, solvers already exist that will quickly give you a set of moves to solve any state of the cube. This is not one of those solvers. The project was designed to be an exercise in searching, and therefore instead uses the A* best-first search algorithm to produce an optimal result.
My solver is a command line application written in Python. It has a simple interface that displays a color representation of the cube. There are commands to manipulate the cube just like in real life, as well as other commands to randomly scramble the cube as well as try to solve the cube in its current state.
This is one of those projects I could have just kept working on forever. There would always be more things to tweak. The search algorithm is pretty simple, but it works. Currently there is some code in place to try and reduce the number of duplicate states checked (for example if in the last step a certain move was made, making the opposite move for the next step does not make sense). Everything, helps because the number of states that have to be checked is huge. Just applying 5 random moves to a cube can put it in one of 1889568 states, although my solver will generally only check a fraction of them, and finish in a few seconds. Applying 6 random moves has taken up to 20 minutes for a relatively fast computer to solve. Go beyond that, and you may be waiting for a while: it’s not hard to use up several gigabytes of memory.
You can find the code on Github. I haven’t touched the code in some time, but it could be fun to improve this a little bit more in the future.
A web monitoring application for the Chrysler Corporation
Compared to the old system, MyPFS is much more powerful and includes features such as asynchronous background updates so users never need to refresh the page, custom user profiles with support for user selected visual themes. Each of the modules on the page can be dragged to whatever location the user prefers and can have settings customized depending on the user’s location.