Application in Ray Tracing
Adaptive sampling is similar in nature to supersampling. Each pixel to be traced has a primary ray cast through each of the corners. If the intensity of the four corners varies significantly from the others, then the pixel is split into four rectangular portions. Each of the new quadrants has primary rays acst through their corners. Any quadrant for which the new rays display significant difference are further subdivided and the process is repeated. The subdivision can be repeated to an arbitrary level. The quadrants have rays common with the previous level and with each other thus reducing the amount of tracing that has to be done.
Adaptive sampling works very well on boundary edges. In certain scenes, problema can occur because sampler's subdivision phase stops prematurely. In this case, aliased artifacts can occur in the final image.
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