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  1. A single experiment is reported that measured the apparent stereoscopic shapes of symmetric and asymmetric objects at different viewing distances. The symmetric stimuli were specifically designed to satisfy the minimal conditions for computing veridical shape from symmetry. That is to say, they depicted complex, bilaterally symmetric, plane-faced polyhedra whose symmetry planes were oriented at an angle of 45° relative to the line of sight. The asymmetric stimuli were distorted versions of the symmetric ones in which the 3D position of each vertex was randomly displaced. Prior theoretical analyses have shown that it is mathematically possible to compute the 3D shapes of symmetric stimuli under these conditions, but those algorithms are useless for asymmetric objects. The results revealed that the apparent shapes of both types of objects were expanded or compressed in depth as a function of viewing distance, in exactly the same way as has been reported in many other studies, and that the presence or absence of symmetry had no detectable effect on performance. 
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    In 1966, James Gibson first presented his theory of the ambient optic array, and he proposed a new field of ecological optics that he hoped would advance our knowledge on this topic. This study will consider how his ideas have largely come to fruition over the past 50 years. It reviews the research on the visual perception of three-dimensional shape from shading, the effects of ambient light from surface interreflections on observers’ perceptions, the perception of the light field, and the perception of surface materials. Finally, it also considers Gibson’s impact on these developments. 
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