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Mick West from Cowboy Programming posted a two part series to his blog titled Practical Fluid Dynamics. Originally written for Game Developer Magazine, it covers a number of clever (and down-to-earth) techniques for simulating the movement of fluids in games and other software environments where real-time speed and visual authenticity matter most.

Special attention is paid to the simulation of particulate matter being carried around within a fluid volume—think effects like smoke, fire, and bubbles. I know I’ve seen a number of people using particle systems to do this sort of thing, but the methods Mick describes are all based on a grid model where you represent the system with a velocity field and a density field. Unlike a particle system, these fields represent a continuous fluid surface, allowing you to measure the density and velocity of the fluid at any location on the surface by interpolating the values from the nearest cells in the field array.

Practical Fluid Mechanics