Recursive Control Variates for Inverse Rendering


We present a method for reducing errors—variance and bias—in physically based differentiable rendering (PBDR). Typical applications of PBDR repeatedly render a scene as part of an optimization loop involving gradient descent. The actual change introduced by each gradient descent step is often relatively small, causing a significant degree of redundancy in this computation. We exploit this redundancy by formulating a gradient estimator that employs a recursive control variate, which leverages information from previous optimization steps. The control variate reduces variance in gradients, and, perhaps more importantly, alleviates issues that arise from differentiating loss functions with respect to noisy inputs, a common cause of drift to bad local minima or divergent optimizations. We experimentally evaluate our approach on a variety of path-traced scenes containing surfaces and volumes and observe that primal rendering efficiency improves by a factor of up to 10.

ACM Transactions on Graphics (SIGGRAPH), 2023