Review: Shadow Algorithms Data Miner by Andrew Woo


Shadow Algorithms Data Miner by Andrew Woo was an interesting find for me. The oddly titled book was released over 2 years ago, yet there wasn’t a single review on Amazon (where I purchased the e-book). However, I read the table of contents and it seemed pretty extensive in it’s coverage of computer graphic shadow techniques. So I decided to take a chance and purchase the item. I am glad I did.

Prior to vacationing in Japan, I started reading the book and managed to finish it before the plane ride back. It was only about 200 pages long, somewhat short for a technical text, but Woo managed to fit a lot in there. He speaks about planar shadows, shadow depth maps, shadow volumes, ray tracing, hard and soft shadows, filtering techniques, and more. While it certainly was not exhaustive, I don’t think that was Andrew Woo’s intention with this title. It is much more of a broad overview, with ample references to relevant papers and topics to research further on your own. With that in mind, there is almost zero code or pseudo-code contained in these pages. He just explains the general concepts of how the algorithm functions, and it is up to you to implement after further research.

For any readers using Kindle tablets, you will be in for a treat. The Kindle e-book is formatted exactly like the hard-cover, and happens to be about the same aspect ratio as the Fire HDX. This means it looks basically like a real book, everything is formatted perfectly (a major issue with technical e-books), and you don’t have to zoom or pan around. The disadvantage is that you cannot change the font size or background color like you can with most Kindle titles. A fair price to pay for a more streamline experience.

Overall I was impressed with Shadow Algorithms Data Miner and would recommend the book to anyone wanting to learn about computer graphic shadow techniques. Keep in mind the book is highly approachable, but it may be a tad simple for advanced users. If you already have a good understanding of how different shadow algorithms work, you probably won’t find any gems here. On the other hand, if you are starting out this book can be invaluable. It has my seal of approval.

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