1 ArtiSynth Overview

1.1 System structure

An ArtiSynth model is composed of a hierarchy of models and model components which are implemented by various Java classes. These may include sub-models (including finite element models), particles, rigid bodies, springs, connectors, and constraints. The component hierarchy may be in turn connected to various agent components, such as control panels, controllers and monitors, and input and output data streams (i.e., probes), which have the ability to control and record the simulation as it advances in time. Agents are presented in more detail in Section 5.

The models and agents are collected together within a top-level component known as a root model. Simulation proceeds under the control of a scheduler, which advances the models through time using a physics simulator. A rich graphical user interface (GUI) allows users to view and edit the model hierarchy, modify component properties, and edit and temporally arrange the input and output probes using a timeline display.

1.1.1 Model components

Every ArtiSynth component is an instance of ModelComponent. When connected to the hierarchy, it is assigned a unique number relative to its parent; the parent and number can be obtained using the methods getParent() and getNumber(), respectively. Components may also be assigned a name (using setName()) which is then returned using getName().

A sub-interface of ModelComponent includes CompositeComponent, which contains child components. A ComponentList is a CompositeComponent which simply contains a list of other components (such as particles, rigid bodies, sub-models, etc.).

Components which contain state information (such as position and velocity) should extend HasState, which provides the methods getState() and setState() for saving and restoring state.

A Model is a sub-interface of CompositeComponent and HasState that contains the notion of advancing through time and which implements this with the methods initialize(t0) and advance(t0, t1, flags), as discussed further in Section 1.1.4. The most common instance of Model used in ArtiSynth is MechModel (Section 1.1.5), which is the top-level container for a mechanical or biomechanical model.

1.1.2 The RootModel

The top-level component in the hierarchy is the root model, which is a subclass of RootModel and which contains a list of models along with lists of agents used to control and interact with these models. The component lists in RootModel include:

models top-level models of the component hierarchy
inputProbes input data streams for controlling the simulation
controllers functions for controlling the simulation
monitors functions for observing the simulation
outputProbes output data streams for observing the simulation

Each agent may be associated with a specific top-level model.

1.1.3 Component path names

The names and/or numbers of a component and its ancestors can be used to form a component path name. This path has a construction analogous to Unix file path names, with the ’/’ character acting as a separator. Absolute paths start with ’/’, which indicates the root model. Relative paths omit the leading ’/’ and can begin lower down in the hierarchy. A typical path name might be


For nameless components in the path, their numbers can be used instead. Numbers can also be used for components that have names. Hence the path above could also be represented using only numbers, as in


although this would most likely appear only in machine-generated output.

1.1.4 Model advancement

ArtiSynth simulation proceeds by advancing all of the root model’s top-level models through a sequence of time steps. Every time step is achieved by calling each model’s advance() method:

  public StepAdjustment advance (double t0, double t1) {
     ... perform simulation ...

This method advances the model from time t0 to time t1, performing whatever physical simulation is required (see Section 1.2). The method may optionally return a StepAdjustment indicating that the step size (t1 - t0) was too large and that the advance should be redone with a smaller step size.

The root model has it’s own advance(), which in turn calls the advance method for all of the top-level models, in sequence. The advance of each model is surrounded by the application of whatever agents are associated with that model. This is done by calling the agent’s apply() method:

   model.preadvance (t0, t1);
   for (each input probe p) {
      p.apply (t1);
   for (each controller c) {
      c.apply (t0, t1);
   model.advance (t0, t1);
   for (each monitor m) {
      m.apply (t0, t1);
   for (each output probe p) {
      p.apply (t1);

Agents not associated with a specific model are applied before (or after) the advance of all other models.

More precise details about model advancement are given in the ArtiSynth Reference Manual.

1.1.5 MechModel

Most ArtiSynth applications contain a single top-level model which is an instance of MechModel. This is aCompositeComponent that may (recursively) contain an arbitrary number of mechanical components, including finite element models, other MechModels, particles, rigid bodies, constraints, attachments, and various force effectors. The MechModel advance() method invokes a physics simulator that advances these components forward in time (Section 1.2).

For convenience each MechModel contains a number of predefined containers for different component types, including:

particles 3 DOF particles
points other 3 DOF points
rigidBodies 6 DOF rigid bodies
frames other 6 DOF frames
axialSprings point-to-point springs
connectors joint-type connectors between bodies
constrainers general constraints
forceEffectors general force-effectors
attachments attachments between dynamic components
renderables renderable components (for visualization only)

Each of these is a child component of MechModel and is implemented as a ComponentList. Special methods are provided for adding and removing items from them. However, applications are not required to use these containers, and may instead create any component containment structure that is appropriate. If not used, the containers will simply remain empty.