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Get Your Own Particle Packing with Queen Mary University

Queen Mary’s University, part of the University of London, is a Russell Group institution focussed on excellence in both teaching & research. Establish in 1887, the university is currently educating more than 20,000 students from over 160 countries.

Project objective

The university wanted to create a fun, visually appealing app to help teach the concept of particle packing. Users would be able to create shapes and pack them into a screen. It would be important to export images of completed packing simulations, and a leaderboard showing users who had achieved exceptionally high packing density.

Project output

Inside the app users may choose up to two pre-defined shapes or draw their own. These shapes appear on screen, and pack according to the gravity simulation of the game. Users can shake their screen to rearrange the particles to try to pack them tighter. Live feedback calculates how tightly the particles are packed. Users can export images via email or social media. A leaderboard is hosted on a cloud online, and is updated with user scores automatically.


The question of how densely particles of a particular shape can pack is one of the most ancient problems in science and engineering. However, not much is known about packings of non-spherical shapes. Rather than exploring the infinite space of possible shapes by an algorithm, GeYOPP invokes the imagination of the user to explore the connection between shape and the resulting random packing density.

GeYOPP is fun and educational, but at the same time lets the user investigate an open scientific problem: What is the shape that packs the densest in a random arrangement? GeYOPP is thus truly an app for “crowd research”. GeYOPP was funded jointly by the School of Mathematical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under grant EP/L020955/1 “Optimizing Particle Packings by Shape Variation”.

Meet the Team

Queen Mary University