Widely varying estimates of the number of discernible object colors have been made by using various methods over the past 100 years. To clarify the source of the discrepancies in the previous, inconsistent estimates, the number of discernible object colors is estimated over a wide range of color temperatures and illuminance levels using several chromatic adaptation models, color spaces, and color difference limens. Efficient and accurate models are used to compute optimal-color solids and count the number of discernible colors. A comprehensive simulation reveals limitations in the ability of current color appearance models to estimate the number of discernible colors even if the color solid is smaller than the optimal-color solid. The estimates depend on the color appearance model, color space, and color difference limen used. The fundamental problem lies in the von Kries-type chromatic adaptation transforms, which have an unknown effect on the ranking of the number of discernible colors at different color temperatures.
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