Quasi-Monte Carlo simulation of the light environment of plants

Mikolaj Cieslak1,5, Christiane Lemieux2, Jim Hanan3, and Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz4 1 School of Physical Sciences, University of Queensland
2 Department of Physical and Actuarial Science, University of Waterloo
3 Centre for Biological Information Technology, University of Queensland
4 Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary
5 HortResearch New Zealand


The distribution of light in the canopy is a major factor regulating the growth and development of a plant. The main variables of interest are the amount of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) reaching different elements of the plant canopy, and the quality (spectral composition) of light reaching these elements. A light environment model based on Monte Carlo (MC) path tracing of photons, capable of computing both PAR and the spectral composition of light, was developed by Mech, and can be conveniently interfaced with virtual plants expressed using the open L-system formalism. To improve the efficiency of the light distribution calculations provided by Mech’s MonteCarlo program, we have implemented a similar program QuasiMC, which supports a more efficient randomised quasi-Monte Carlo sampling method (RQMC). We have validated QuasiMC by comparing it with MonteCarlo and with the radiosity-based CARIBU software, and we show that these two programs produce consistent results. We also assessed the performance of the RQMC path tracing algorithm by comparing it with Monte Carlo path tracing and confirmed that RQMC offers a speed and/or accuracy improvement over MC.


Mikolaj Cieslak, Christiane Lemieux, Jim Hanan, and Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz. Quasi-Monte Carlo simulation of the light environment of plants. Functional Plant Biology 35(10), pp. 837-849, 2008.

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