CSCI 420 Computer Graphics, Spring 2024

Lecture: Monday and Wednesday, 10:00-11:50, MHP 101
Instructor: Jernej Barbic,
Office: SAL 240
Office hours: Monday 4:00 - 5:00   
TA: Jiahao Wen (
Producer: Shikun Wang,
TA Office hours:
Tuesday 4pm-5pm, SAL 213
Friday 4pm-5pm, SAL 213

Introduction and Purpose

This course is an introduction to three-dimensional computer graphics. Students will learn both the theory of 3D computer graphics, and how to program it efficiently using OpenGL. The course primarily teaches the "modern" shader-based OpenGL (core profile), but also introduces the "classic" fixed-function OpenGL (compatibility profile). Topics include 2D and 3D transformations, Bézier and B-Spline curves for geometric modeling, interactive 3D graphics programming, computer animation and kinematics, and computer graphics rendering including ray tracing, shading and lighting. There will be an emphasis on the mathematical and geometric aspects of computer graphics. This course is regularly offered every semester (the instructor may vary from offering to offering, as may the content somewhat).

Schedule | Prerequisites | Textbooks | Assignments | Grading | Resources and Supplementary Reading | Academic Integrity

Date Topic Reading (Angel) Reference Assignments

Mon Jan 8 2024 What is Computer Graphics Ch 1 PDF  PDF-6X-BW
Wed Jan 10 Introduction to OpenGL Ch 2 PDF  PDF-6X-BW

Mon Jan 15 No class (Martin Luther King Day)
Wed Jan 17 Graphics Pipeline Ch 2 PDF  PDF-6X-BW

Mon Jan 22 Color and Hidden Surface Removal Ch 2 PDF  PDF-6X-BW
Wed Jan 24 Transformations Ch 3 PDF  PDF-6X-BW

Mon Jan 29 Viewing and Projection Ch 4 PDF  PDF-6X-BW Assign1-Tips
Wed Jan 31 Shaders Ch 1, 2, App A PDF  PDF-6X-BW Assignment 1 out

Mon Feb 5 Shaders (continuation)
Wed Feb 7 Hierarchical Modeling Ch 8 PDF  PDF-6X-BW 

Mon Feb 12 Polygonal Meshes, Curves and Surfaces Ch 10 PDF  PDF-6X-BW
Wed Feb 14 Splines Ch 10 PDF  PDF-6X-BW

Mon Feb 19 No class (President's Day)
Wed Feb 21 Lighting and Shading Ch 5 PDF  PDF-6X-BW Assignment 1 due

Mon Feb 26 Catch-up day Assignment 2 out
Wed Feb 28 Texture Mapping Ch 7 PDF  PDF-6X-BW Assign2-Tips

Mon Mar 4 Review for midterm Assignment 2 milestone due
Wed Mar 6 Midterm exam (in-class)

Mon Mar 18 Catch-up day
Wed Mar 20 Rasterization Ch 6 PDF  PDF-6X-BW 

Mon Mar 25 Ray Tracing Ch 11 PDF  PDF-6X-BW
Wed Mar 27 Ray Tracing: Geometric Queries Ch 11 PDF  PDF-6X-BW  Assign3-Tips Assignment 2 due
Assignment 3 out

Mon Apr 1 Spatial Data Structures Ch 8 PDF  PDF-6X-BW
Wed Apr 3 Global Illumination Ch 11 PDF  PDF-6X-BW

Mon Apr 8 Keyframe Animation Ch 9 PDF  PDF-6X-BW Vulkan 6X
Wed Apr 10 Image Processing Ch 6, 7 PDF  PDF-6X-BW

Mon Apr 15 Physically Based Simulation Ch 9 PDF  PDF-6X-BW
Wed Apr 17 Non-Photorealistic Rendering PDF  PDF-6X-BW Assignment 3 due

Mon Apr 22 Virtual Reality PDF  PDF-6X-BW
Wed Apr 24 Visualization Ch 11 PDF  PDF-6X-BW

Mon May 6 Final exam 8a.m.-9:50a.m., in class


Textbooks (both strongly recommended)


There will be three programming homework assignments, teaching students OpenGL and how to program 3D computer graphics. Please see the schedule for links to assignments and due dates. All assignments must be done individually.


All assignments must be completed before the final exam to pass the course. Students must take the mid-term and final exams to pass the course. The assignments will have a small amount of extra credit.

Late policy: Programming assignments should be turned in by midnight on the day they are due. A total of three late days may be taken during the semester on programming assignments. For example, you can use one late day on the second assignment, and two on the third assignment. All days are counted, including any weekends and holidays, as follows:
Less than 24 hours late = 1 late day, 24-48 hours late = 2 late days, 48-72 hours late = 3 late days, and so on.
The flexibility provided by the late days is intended to get you through the time where all your classes just happen to have assignments due on the same day. Beyond the three late days, there will be a penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment / day. Exceptions will be granted only under most dire circumstances and must be discussed with and approved by the instructor at least one week in advance. Assignment and exam grading may be discussed within three weeks of them being returned to the students.


There is a forum on Piazza where students can ask questions.

Resources and Supplementary Readings

Computer Graphics References

Prerequisite-related Resources

Academic integrity

All students are expected to maintain the utmost level of academic integrity. Do not copy any parts of any of the assignments from anyone. Do not look at other students' code, papers, assignments or exams. The university policies on academic conduct will be applied rigorously, and the USC Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards will be notified.

Statement on Academic Conduct and Support Systems

Academic Conduct
Plagiarism - presenting someone else's ideas as your own, either verbatim or recast in your own words, is a serious academic offense with serious consequences. Please familiarize yourself with the discussion of plagiarism in SCampus in Section 11, Behavior Violating University Standards, Other forms of academic dishonesty are equally unacceptable. See additional information in SCampus and university policies on scientific misconduct,

Discrimination, sexual assault, and harassment are not tolerated by the university. You are encouraged to report any incidents to the Office of Equity and Diversity or to the Department of Public Safety This is important for the safety whole USC community. Another member of the university community -- such as a friend, classmate, advisor, or faculty member -- can help initiate the report, or can initiate the report on behalf of another person. The Center for Women and Men provides 24/7 confidential support, and the sexual assault resource center webpage describes reporting options and other resources.

Support Systems
A number of USC's schools provide support for students who need help with scholarly writing. Check with your advisor or program staff to find out more. Students whose primary language is not English should check with the American Language Institute, which sponsors courses and workshops specifically for international graduate students. The Office of Disability Services and Programs provides certification for students with disabilities and helps arrange the relevant accommodations. If an officially declared emergency makes travel to campus infeasible, USC Emergency Information provide safety and other updates, including ways in which instruction will be continued by means of blackboard, teleconferencing, and other technology.

Statement for Students with Disabilities

Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me (or to TA) as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776.


I wish to thank Prof. Frank Pfenning and Prof. Jessica Hodgins from Carnegie Mellon University for generously providing materials from their computer graphics courses at CMU. This course has also been influenced by computer graphics courses at Cornell, MIT and UC Berkeley.