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Computing the light from the sky on a 2D height field requires computing the horizon from each location, equivalent to computing the ambient occlusion due to the ground. It is possible to use the regular grid layout to reduce the 2D computation to a collection of 1D computations. It is possible to compute the 1D horizon for N points in O(N) time using a single pass that tracks the convex hull of points-so-far.

heightfields
terrain
lighting
computergraphics
october 2015 by Z303