 ## Description

This project consists of a simple physics engine in an arbitrary number of dimensions. The engine itself is written in pure JavaScript. In addition, p5.js was used for rendering. A demo can be found here. The source code for this project can be found here.

## Tutorial

### Introduction

In order to create a physics engine in higher dimensions, we will need to create a Vector class in order to describe the particle’s position, velocity and acceleration. Then, we will create a Hyperball class which will make use of the Vector class. On the way, we will derive equations that we will then translate into code. Finally, we will design a user interface containing an HTML5 canvas which we will draw on using the p5.js library.

### The Vector Class

The Vector class is the cornerstone of the rest of the project. This class will implement all the common vector operations we will use. Common operations with vectors include the inner product (also known as the dot product), addition, scalar multiplication, and so on. This means that we need the following methods:

• static add(v1, v2)
• mult(scl)
• static dot(v1, v2)
• get norm()
• neg()

In order to make the implementation and use of this class easier, it is useful to also define a get(i) method which returns the value of the ith component of the vector. In addition, we would like to be able to negate one of the components of the vector, since we would like to make the objects bounce elastically on the walls (all of which have a corresponding axis). This means we should also add a flip(i) method. Another useful operation is the distance between two vectors. This means the Vector class should have a static dist(v1, v2) method. Furthermore, the operations the operations will return a new Vector object rather than modifying the existing one. So, we can start writing our class:

The code can be experimented with here. As we can notice, the norm() getter has been implemented using the identity $$\lVert \vec v \rVert^2 = \vec v \cdot \vec v$$.

### The Hyperball Class

We would like to have a Hyperball class which contains all the properties and behaviour expected of an n-dimensional ball, or n-ball. So, we are expected to have the following properties

• r, a scalar of number denoting the radius of the particle
• pos, a Vector denoting the position of the particle
• vel, a Vector denoting the velocity of the particle
• acc, a Vector denoting the acceleration of the particle
• mass, a scalar or number denoting the mass of the particle
• dim, a scalar or number denoting the dimension of the particle

We can also expect to have the following methods

• update(box, dt)
• static updateAll(hyperballs, box, dt)
• isColliding(other)
• collisionResponse(other)
• crossSection(cuts)

The method update(box, dt) simply updates the positions of each Hyperball after some amount of time dt inside of a region given by box. Indeed, box is a Vector containing all the lengths of the sides of the region. The static method updateAll(hyperballs, box, dt) takes an array of Hyperball objects, updates each of them, and also checks for any collisions. If one is found, then collisionResponse(other) is called. The method isColliding(other) returns whether or not there is a collision with the Hyperball other. The method collisionResponse(other) will update the velocities of the two Hyperball objects that collided. The formula will be derived in the following subsection. Finally, the crossSection(cuts) method will return the cross section of the hyperball through hyperplanes of the form $$x_i = c$$ defined by the argument cuts.

#### Elastic Collision in N-Dimensions

In order to calculate the final velocities, we will need to solve a system of equations. First, we will introduce some notation. We have

• $$\vec v_1$$, the initial velocity of the first particle,
• $$\vec v_2$$, the initial velocity of the second particle,
• $$\vec v_1^\prime$$, the final velocity of the first particle,
• $$\vec v_2^\prime$$, the final velocity of the second particle,
• $$\vec s_1$$, the position of the first particle,
• $$\vec s_2$$, the position of the second particle.

We wish to solve the following system of equations:

\begin{aligned} \frac{1}{2}m_1 \left \lVert \vec v_1 \right \rVert ^2 + \frac{1}{2}m_2 \left \lVert \vec v_2 \right \rVert ^2 &= \frac{1}{2}m_1 \left \lVert \vec v_1^\prime \right \rVert ^2 + \frac{1}{2}m_2 \left \lVert \vec v_2^\prime \right \rVert ^2 &\; (1)\\ m_1 \vec v_1 + m_2 \vec v_2 &= m_1 \vec v_1^\prime + m_2 \vec v_2^\prime &\; (2) \\ m_2 (\vec v_2^\prime - \vec v_2) &= \lambda( \vec s_2 - \vec s_1 ) &\; (3) \end{aligned}

The equations (1), (2) and (3) are due to conservation of energy, conservation of momentum and squishification, respectively. In truth, the last equation is not actually called squishification, but it seems like a good name for it. In essence, the change in momentum of the first (or second) particle must be along the same axis which passes through the centers of the two particles. The following diagram should show it more clearly: The two particles are in contact for a short amount of time $$\Delta t$$ between $$t_0$$ and $$t_1$$. During that time, the two particles apply a force equal in magnitude but opposite in direction on each other. It suffices to only look at the force applied on $$m_2$$. In truth, the force applied on $$m_2$$ varies over time between $$t_0$$ and $$t_1$$. This means we need to integrate the force over that interval. So, we have

$\int_{t_0}^{t_1} \vec F_{1 \to 2} dt.$

However, force is the derivative of momentum, so we can write

$\int_{t_0}^{t_1} \frac{d\vec p_2}{dt} dt.$

By the fundamental theorem of calculus, we have

$\Delta \vec p_2 = \int_{t_0}^{t_1} \vec F_{1 \to 2} dt.$

From the above diagram, we can see that $$\vec F(t) = \lambda(t) (\vec s_2 - \vec s_1)$$. Substituting, we have

$\Delta \vec p_2 = \int_{t_0}^{t_1} \lambda(t) (\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) dt,$

which simplifies to

$\Delta \vec p_2 = (\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) \int_{t_0}^{t_1} \lambda(t) dt.$

Since $$\int_{t_0}^{t_1} \lambda(t)$$ is just a number, we can write

$m_2 (\vec v_2^\prime - \vec v_2) = \lambda \left ( \vec s_2 - \vec s_1 \right ),$

which is what we wanted. It is possible to find a similar expression for $$m_2$$ using equations (2) and (3) by first rewriting (2).

\begin{aligned} m_1 \left (\vec v_1^\prime - \vec v_1\right ) &= -m_2 \left (\vec v_2^\prime - \vec v_2 \right ) \\ m_1 \left (\vec v_1^\prime - \vec v_1\right ) &= -\lambda (\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) &\; (4) \end{aligned}

Now, we simplify equation (1). $m_1 \left ( \| \vec v_1^\prime \| ^2 - | \vec v_1 \| ^2\right ) = -m_2 \left ( \| \vec v_2^\prime \| ^2 - \| \vec v_2 \| ^2 \right ) \quad (5)$

We use the identity $$\| \vec v \| ^2 - \| \vec u\| ^2 = (\vec v - \vec u) \cdot (\vec v + \vec u)$$ to rewrite (5).

\begin{aligned} &m_1(\vec v_1^\prime - \vec v_1) \cdot (\vec v_1^\prime + \vec v_1) =-m_2 (\vec v_2^\prime - \vec v_2) \cdot (\vec v_2^\prime + \vec v_2) \quad (6) \end{aligned}

Plugging (3) and (4) into (6):

$-\lambda(\vec s_2 - \vec s_1)\cdot (\vec v_1^\prime + \vec v_1) = -\lambda(\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) \cdot (\vec v_2^\prime + \vec v_2)$

Since $$\lambda \neq 0$$, we have

$(\vec s_2 - \vec s_1)\cdot (\vec v_1^\prime + \vec v_1) = (\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) \cdot (\vec v_2^\prime + \vec v_2) \quad (7)$

From equations (3) and (4), we can isolate $$\vec v_1^\prime$$ and $$\vec v_2^\prime$$.

\begin{aligned} \vec v_1^\prime &= \frac{-\lambda}{m_1}(\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) + \vec v_1 &\; (8) \\ \vec v_2^\prime &= \frac{\lambda}{m_2} (\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) + \vec v_2 &\; (9) \end{aligned}

Substituting (8) onto the left side of (7)

\begin{aligned} &(\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) \cdot \left ( \frac{-\lambda}{m_1} (\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) + 2\vec v_1 \right ) = \frac{-\lambda}{m_1} \| \vec s_2 - \vec s_1 \| ^2 + 2\vec v_1 \cdot (\vec s_1 - \vec s_1) \end{aligned}

Substituting (9) onto the right side of (7) \begin{aligned} &(\vec s_1 - \vec s_1) \cdot \left ( \frac{\lambda}{m_2} ( \vec s_2 - \vec s_1) + 2 \vec v_2 \right ) = \frac{\lambda}{m_2} \| \vec s_2 - \vec s_1 \|^2 + 2\vec v_2 \cdot (\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) \end{aligned}

Combining both sides

\begin{aligned} &\frac{-\lambda}{m_1} \| \vec s_2 - \vec s_1 \| ^2 + 2\vec v_1 \cdot (\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) = \frac{\lambda}{m_2} \| \vec s_2 - \vec s_1 \|^2 + 2\vec v_2 \cdot (\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) \end{aligned}

Now we can solve for $$\lambda$$

\begin{aligned} \lambda \left ( \frac{1}{m_1} + \frac{1}{m_2}\right) \| \vec s_2 - \vec s_1 \| ^2 &= -2(\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) \cdot (\vec v_2 - \vec v_1) \\ \lambda \left (\frac{m_1 + m_2}{m_1 m_2}\right ) \| \vec s_2 - \vec s_1 \| ^2 &=-2(\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) \cdot (\vec v_2 - \vec v_1) \\ \lambda &= \frac{-2m_1 m_2}{m_1 + m_2} \frac {(\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) \cdot (\vec v_2 - \vec v_1)} {\| \vec s_2 - \vec s_1 \| ^2} \end{aligned}

We can now substitute $$\lambda$$ back into equations (8) and (9)

\begin{aligned} \vec v_1^\prime &= \frac{2 m_2}{m_1 + m_2} \frac{(\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) \cdot (\vec v_2 - \vec v_1)} {\| \vec s_2 - \vec s_1 \|^2} (\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) + \vec v_1 \\ \vec v_2^\prime &= \frac{-2m_1}{m_1 + m_2} \frac{(\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) \cdot (\vec v_2 - \vec v_1)} {\| \vec s_2 - \vec s_1 \|^2} (\vec s_2 - \vec s_1) + \vec v_2 \end{aligned}

which concludes the derivation.

#### Hyperball Cross Sections

Projecting higher dimensional objects into a 2D screen is far from a trivial problem. There are many ways to solve this, and this project will solve it by computing a cross section of the hyperballs. However, in the case of a 6 dimensional object, for example, a cross section of a cross section of a cross section must be computed in order to be displayed as an ordinary 3D ball. The easiest cross sections to compute are those which are perpendicular to a certain axis, i.e. given by hyperplanes of the form $$x_i = c$$. In general, we would like to be able to compute the resulting hyperball after being “sliced” by a sequence of hyperplanes $$x_{k_1} = c_1, \ x_{k_2} = c_2, \ \cdots, \ x_{k_m} = c_m$$. In other words, we are interested in the points which satisfy those equations as well as the equation for the initial hyperball:

$\left \{ \vec p \in \mathbb{R}^n : d(\vec p, \vec o) \leq r \right \},$

where $$\vec o$$ is the center of the hyperball and $$r$$ is its radius. To simplify this problem, we can find an equation for a single slice $$x_k = c$$ and simply apply the equation as many times as necessary. In components, this is written as:

$(x_1 - o_1)^2 + \cdots + (x_{k-1} - o_{k-1})^2 + (x_k - o_k)^2 + (x_{k+1} - o_{k+1})^2 + \cdots + (x_n - o_n)^2 \leq r^2$

Now, we substitute $$x_k = c$$:

\begin{aligned} (x_1 - o_1)^2 + \cdots + (x_{k-1} - o_{k-1})^2 + (c - o_k)^2 + (x_{k+1} - o_{k+1})^2 + \cdots (x_n - o_n)^2 &\leq r^2 \\ (x_1 - o_1)^2 + \cdots + (x_{k-1} - o_{k-1})^2 + (x_{k+1} - o_{k+1})^2 + \cdots (x_n - o_n)^2 &\leq r^2 - (c - o_k)^2 \end{aligned}

This equations only has solutions if $$r^2 - (c - o_k)^2 \geq 0$$. If it does, then we have a new equation in terms of $$x_1, \cdots, x_{k-1}, x_{k+1}, \cdots, x_k$$. We can now ignore the component $$x_k$$ and now we have a new hypersphere in $$n-1$$ dimensions with

$\vec o^\prime = \begin{bmatrix}o_1 \\ o_2 \\ \vdots \\ o_{k-1} \\ o_{k+1} \\ \vdots \\ o_{n-1} \\ o_n \end{bmatrix}, \quad r^\prime = \sqrt{r^2 - (c - o_k)^2}.$

In order to do the generalized version with $$m$$ slices, we simply apply this process on each successive cross section.

#### Towards or Away?

There is one more thing to take into consideration: There might be a case were two hyperballs are colliding, but they are actually moving away from each other. This depends on the sign of the dot product between $$\vec v_2 - \vec v_1$$ and $$\vec s_2 - \vec s_1$$. Indeed, $$\vec s_2 - \vec s_1$$ is the vector going from the center of the first particle to the center of the second particle and $$\vec v_2 - \vec v_1$$ is the second particle’s velocity from the first particle’s frame of reference. If the dot product is negative, it means these two vectors are pointing in opposite directions and so the particles are moving towards each other.

#### The Code

We can finally write our Hyperball class.

### The User Interface

The website consists of some text with some buttons and some sliders. The HTML is quite straight-forward:

The first two scripts load the p5.js library. Then there’s the files vector.js and hyperball.js files we wrote above. The file index.js will be written in the next section. Finally there’s the css file, which goes as follows:

#### Generating UI Elements

The number of sliders in the project varies depending on the number of “hidden” dimensions that the user chooses to have. By hidden dimension, we mean all dimensions excecpt the ones currently shown to the user. For instance, if the total number of dimensions is 8, but is being projected down to 3, then there are 5 hidden dimensions, and hence, we need to generate 5 sliders. Thankfully, the code for this is simple.

Here, the divs and paras variables are arrays which hold all the elements we dynamically create. We also need to remove all those elements when the user changes the number of dimensions.

### Animation

#### Non Overlapping Hyperballs

At the start of the simulation we would like there to be no ovelapping hyperballs. This can be achieve quite easily using the generate and test strategy: randomly select a radius and position and check if there is any overlap with the reset of the hyperballs. In order to speed up this process, the maximum radius can be made to exponentially decrease in each iteration.

We could for instance decide to always have 10 hyperballs in for each number of dimensions. However, we notice that they become more and more difficult to find as the number of dimensions increases. Intuitively, this is due to the fact that the more dimensions there are, the more space the is. To combat this, we choose to have $$2^n$$ hyperballs when the dimensions is $$n$$. The initialization and reset is as follows:

We call the second function restart since it will also be called when the user changes the dimension. Now, we have to “bind” the UI to our restart function. That is, we wish to call restart whenever the user changes the dimension.

Finally, the p5.js setup() function (called once at the beginning) is:

#### Movement

For each of the hyperballs, we update them. Thankfully, we already have a static method called updateAll() in the Hyperball class which does this.

### Drawing

To draw each frame of the animation, we will either use p5.js in 2D or 3D (WEBGL) mode. For each hyperball, we compute its cross section, and if it exists we draw either an ellipse or a sphere at its place. We can optionally also choose to visualize in 1D by drawing segments.

The last piece of code is thus

## Final Words

And… That’s about it. If you’ve followed along, you have successfully created a simple physics engine in an arbitrary number of dimensions by first creating some classes we needed, thinking through the physics of collisions and the process of taking cross sections of higher dimensions spheres into lower dimensional space.