The Intersection of History and Neural Radiance Field (NeRF): Understanding the Past and the Future of Psychology and 3D Rendering


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Aug 01, 2023

4 min read


The Intersection of History and Neural Radiance Field (NeRF): Understanding the Past and the Future of Psychology and 3D Rendering


The importance of history in defining who we are cannot be overstated. Whether it's understanding the origins of a field like psychology or exploring the advancements in cutting-edge technologies like neural radiance fields (NeRF), delving into history helps make sense of where we are and how we got here. In this article, we will explore the common points between the history of psychology and the development of NeRF, and how they shape our understanding of the past and the future.

The Historical Roots of Psychology:

To understand the history of psychology, we must look back to its precursors in philosophy and physiology. Philosophers such as John Locke and Thomas Reid promoted empiricism, the idea that all knowledge comes from experience. These philosophical questions about the nature of the mind and knowledge were matched in the 19th century by physiological investigations of the sensory systems of the human observer.

One of the key figures in this intersection of philosophy and physiology was Hermann von Helmholtz. His work demonstrated that there is a psychological reality and a physical reality, and that the two are not identical. This raised important questions about the relationship between the mental experiences of the senses and the external reality.

German researchers like Ernst Weber and Gustav Fechner further investigated this relationship, paving the way for the work of Wilhelm Wundt and his students. Wundt's experiments demonstrated that the mind could be measured and the nature of consciousness could be revealed through scientific means. This marked the beginning of experimental psychology, which rapidly spread throughout North America, leading to the establishment of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1892.

Neural Radiance Field (NeRF): A Glimpse into the Future of 3D Rendering:

In the realm of 3D rendering, neural radiance fields (NeRF) represent a significant advancement. A NeRF is a fully-connected neural network that can generate novel views of complex 3D scenes based on a partial set of 2D images. By mapping viewing direction and spatial location to opacity and color, NeRFs use volume rendering to render new views.

Rendering, the process of creating an image from a 3D model, has traditionally relied on different algorithms such as rasterization, ray casting, and ray tracing. Each algorithm has its advantages and limitations, but NeRFs offer a unique approach by using a continuous volumetric scene function to produce novel views of a scene.

However, the original NeRF model had its drawbacks, including slow training and rendering times, limited applicability to static scenes, and lack of flexibility for use with different scenes. Researchers have addressed these limitations through various advancements such as RegNeRF, pixelNeRF, Mega-NeRF, LOLNeRF, NSVF, Mip-NeRF, KiloNeRF, and Plenoptic voxels (Plenoxels).

RegNeRF, for example, tackles the low number of input views by regularizing neural radiance fields for view synthesis from sparse inputs. The pixelNeRF learning framework enhances the prediction capabilities of NeRF by conditioning it on image inputs using a fully convolutional approach. Mega-NeRF enables the construction of interactive 3D environments from large-scale visual captures, while LOLNeRF focuses on generative 3D modeling using primarily single views of each object.

NSVF introduces a neural scene representation that enables fast, high-quality rendering independent of a specific viewpoint. Mip-NeRF reduces blurring effects and visual artifacts by using a conical frustum instead of a single ray per pixel. KiloNeRF addresses the problem of slow rendering by distributing the workload among thousands of small MLPs, and Plenoxels replaces the MLP in the center of NeRF with a sparse 3D grid.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace the Historical Context: When diving into any field or technology, take the time to understand its historical roots. By understanding the past, you gain a deeper appreciation for the present and can better navigate the future.
  • 2. Explore Interdisciplinary Connections: History often reveals surprising connections between seemingly unrelated fields. Look for commonalities and intersections between disciplines to gain new insights and perspectives.
  • 3. Be Open to Advancements and Adaptation: The evolution of psychology and 3D rendering demonstrates the importance of embracing advancements and being open to adaptation. Just as the field of psychology has grown and transformed over time, so too will the world of 3D rendering continue to evolve with new technologies and techniques.


The history of psychology and the development of neural radiance fields (NeRF) may seem like disparate subjects, but they share common themes of exploration, understanding, and advancement. By studying the past, we can gain valuable insights into the present and future of these fields. As we continue to delve into the complexities of the human mind and push the boundaries of 3D rendering, let us remember the importance of history in shaping who we are and where we are headed.

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