“A Top-Down Approach to Teaching Introductory Computer Graphics” by Sung and Shirley

  • ©Kelvin Sung and Peter Shirley




    A Top-Down Approach to Teaching Introductory Computer Graphics



    There are two common strategies for teaching introductory computer graphics (CG) programming. The first and most traditional covers the CG field in a bottom-up manner starting from foundational algorithms such as triangle rasterization. The second is top-down and analyzes the functional modules of applications. This paper argues that the top-down approach is well-suited for mature adult students. A course that has successfully implemented a top-down approach is then described.


    Thanks to all CSS450 students for working so hard with the first author on constantly providing feedback, and to Charles Jackels for his encouragements and support. The detailed conceptualization of the top-down vs. bottom-up approaches is a result of countless discussion with Frank Cioch. It is great to have a colleague who disagrees and yet is willing to listen. Thanks also to Diane Gillpesie for organizing the Research Writing Circle at the UWB, in which Leslie Olsen and Cinnamon Hillyard were able to meet and provide valuable feedback to the first author throughout the writing of this paper.


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