How is glint rendering done with ray tracing in the photo below? Is it just a simple normal map?

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I found a paper online that describes the exact same method used in the photo above but I have no idea what's going on, especially with all the jargon being thrown around. Here's the link: https://people.eecs.berkeley.edu/~lingqi/publications/paper_glints.pdf

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    $\begingroup$ It's an extremely high-resolution normal map, with many texels per screen pixel, and the paper introduces a special technique to calculate highlights from all normals in a screen pixel at once. Can you be more specific about what you understand already and where you're getting lost? It's hard to help otherwise. $\endgroup$ – Nathan Reed Nov 27 '16 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ That explanation was quite helpful, where I am getting lost is the part about 4D Gaussians & Position Normal Distributions. What are they & what do they do? In the paper they show the benefits of their method as opposed to just a simple normal map. $\endgroup$ – Arjan Singh Nov 28 '16 at 5:13

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