Tom Hogarty is appropriately singing the praises of the Camera Raw team that brought us Process Version 2012 in Lightroom 4 Beta. If you’ve not tried it in Lightroom 4, you’re really missing out as the detail recovery is amazing, and can be quite HDR like if pushed to extreme (and if you dislike surreal HDR-don’t push it so much!).
The techniques behind how the Process Version works are explained in a paper that was printed in SIGGRAPH 2011, a prestigious journal in the computer graphics industry. The paper is reference heavy to other work, and provides an interesting look into image processing theory.
Full details can be had from Lightroom Journal.