Summer of Fast Fluid and Gas Simulation

Gas Simulation in KDE Step

Step is a 2D open-source physics simulator that was recently added to the KDE Education project.

Vladimir, the original developer and former Google Summer of Code student, posted up a few ideas to improve Step for this years Google Summer of Code. He included one about improving fluid simulation and, being a computational physicist (TM), I decided to go for it. I wrote up a fancy proposal a few weeks ago and I’m happy to say that it was accepted.

A lot of GSOC projects are strictly geeking out behind-the-scenes, but this one is fun, visual, and physics-based. It’s perfect for me.

Compared to Vladimir’s original summer of code, spent designing Step in it’s entirety, my proposal seems like a pretty modest addition. However, fluids are traditionally a very messy subject in the world of physics simulators. If you aren’t convinced, read this thread on the Box2D forums from only a month ago. To quote ElectroDruid on page 9:

“I gave up with having the particles be handled by Box2D, and one of the main reasons was because of the amount of pairs generated. You can up the maximum limits, but eventually you just run out of storage space for the numbers of pairs that can be needed in certain cases. Box2D is great for rigid bodies, but for fluids where you need a lot of particles which interact with each other in close proximity all the time, it’s easy to push the limits to breaking point.”

I’m sure I will have to deal with similar problems encountered in that thread, but I’m optimistic that such issues can be resolved. Throughout the summer I’ll be blogging my progress on the project here, so stay tuned.

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