It seems that virtually all path tracers use eye-based or view-based path tracing. That is, the light rays originate from the camera rather than the light source. The reason given for this everywhere I have seen online is that if one begins from the light source, then it is quite unlikely that the ray will ever hit the camera. For instance, the documentation for Blender's cycles says " we do not waste light rays that will not end up in the camera".
This seems intuitive at first, but this seems only to reverse the problem because one will just trace a ray until it hits the light source now, and this ray may never hit a light source before the maximum number of bounces, so we will just waste that ray as well. I can see how this is an improvement though, because if we originate at the camera, the first bounce will tend to have a large weight associated with it, but if we flipped the path to start from the light, then this last bounce would tend to have a small weight because many bounces have preceded it. That seems like the answer, except for one thing.
Most path tracers use next even estimation, which just means that at each bounce, the light path is connected directly to a light source as long as nothing occludes that path. This is always a valid path and greatly speeds up convergence. However, if one is going to use next event estimation, then I really can't understand how tracing rays from the camera is advantageous over tracing rays from the light source? In next event estimation, one should almost always get a complete light path either way. Is it related to the ambiguity about which pixel on the camera to connect to? There is a similar ambiguity about which point of an area light to connect to.
I am sure there must be a reason for tracing from the camera because everybody seems to be doing it, so if someone could explain this for me, and/or point to recent papers which compare the approaches, that would be greatly appreciated.