Efficient and accurate sound propagation using adaptive rectangular decomposition

Nikunj Raghuvanshi, Rahul Narain, Ming C. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Accurate sound rendering can add significant realism to complement visual display in interactive applications, as well as facilitate acoustic predictions for many engineering applications, like accurate acoustic analysis for architectural design [CHECK END OF SENTENCE]. Numerical simulation can provide this realism most naturally by modeling the underlying physics of wave propagation. However, wave simulation has traditionally posed a tough computational challenge. In this paper, we present a technique which relies on an adaptive rectangular decomposition of 3D scenes to enable efficient and accurate simulation of sound propagation in complex virtual environments. It exploits the known analytical solution of the Wave Equation in rectangular domains, and utilizes an efficient implementation of the Discrete Cosine Transform on Graphics Processors (GPU) to achieve at least a 100-fold performance gain compared to a standard Finite-Difference Time-Domain (FDTD) implementation with comparable accuracy, while also being 10-fold more memory efficient. Consequently, we are able to perform accurate numerical acoustic simulation on large, complex scenes in the kilohertz range. To the best of our knowledge, it was not previously possible to perform such simulations on a desktop computer. Our work thus enables acoustic analysis on large scenes and auditory display for complex virtual environments on commodity hardware.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5165582
Pages (from-to)789-801
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Auralization
  • Computational acoustics
  • FDTD
  • Sound propagation


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