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A collection of classes for vectors and rects

Project description


A reasonable, performant 2D vector object for games

Copyright 2019-2020 by Larry Hastings


vec is a module currently containing one class: Vector2, a 2D vector object designed for game development.


  • Vector2 objects are immutable.
  • Vector2 support all the usual features, including operator overloading.
  • Attributes of Vector2 objects are lazily-computed where possible.
  • Vector2 objects effortlessly support both cartesian and polar coordinates.

Why Another Vector Class?

I've participated in three PyWeek gaming challenges. In two of those three times, mid-week I wrote my own vector class out of sheer frustration.

The biggest problem with most Python vector objects in is that they're mutable. Frankly this way lies madness. Vector objects should be immutable--it just makes sense from an API perspective. What if you set the position of some game-engine pawn to be a particular vector object, then modify that vector object? Should the pawn update its position automatically--and if so, how is it supposed to know the value changed?

Similarly, some vector classes use degrees for polar coordinates instead of radians. Again this way lies madness. The trigonometric functions in Python's math module operate in the radians domain, and having to keep track of which domain something is in--and translate back and forth--is a needless conceptual complication. You've got a game to write!

(Some vector classes support both radians and degrees for polar coordinates. This is simply bad API design--it doubles the surface area of your API, adding needless complexity and increasing maintenance and testing overhead. Embrace the radian, folks.)

On a related note, many vector classes make polar coordinates second-class citizens. Most vector classes only store vectors in cartesian coordinates, so either the programmer must perform all polar operations externally to the vector objects, or they incur the overhead and cumulative error of translating to polar and back again with every operation.

vec.Vector2 avoids all these problems. vec.Vector2 objects are immutable, they support vectors defined with either polar or cartesian coordinates, and they strictly use radians for polar operations.

The Conceptual Model

vec.Vector2 objects conceptually represent a vector. They can be defined using either cartesian or polar coordinates, and any vec.Vector2 can be queried for both its cartesian and polar coordinates.

Most vector objects in games are defined using cartesian coordinates. vec.Vector2 makes that easy, supporting any number of invocations to create one. Discrete parameters, iterables, and objects that support x and y attributes all work fine:

vec.Vector2(0, 1)
vec.Vector2(x=0, y=1)
vec.Vector2((0, 1))
vec.Vector2([0, 1])
vec.Vector2(types.SimpleNamespace(x=0, y=1))

All these define the same vector. That last example is there to demonstrate that vec.Vector2 can create a vector based on any object with x and y attributes.

Once you have a vector object, you can examine its attributes. Every vec.Vector2 object can be queried for both cartesian and polar coordinates:

v = vec.Vector2(0, 1)
print(v.theta, v.r)

prints 1.5707963267948966 1.0. That first number is π/2 (approximately).

Conversely, you can also define vec.Vector2 objects using polar coordinates, and then ask for its cartesian coordinates:

v2 = vec.Vector2(r=1, theta=1.5707963267948966)
print(v2.x, v2.y)

This prints 6.123233995736766e-17 1.0. Conceptually this should print 0.0, 1.0--but math.pi is only an approximation, which means sadly our result is off by an infinitesimal amount.

Implementation Details

Internally vec.Vector2 objects are either "cartesian" or "polar". "cartesian" vector objects are defined in terms of x and y; "polar" vector objects are defined in terms of r and theta. All other attributes are lazily computed as needed.

vec.Vector2 objects use slots, and rely on __getattr__ to implement this lazy computation. Only the known values of the vector are set when it's created. If the user refers to an attribute that hasn't been computed yet, Python will call vec.Vector2.__getattr__(), which computes and then sets that value. Future references to that attribute skip this mechanism and simply return the cached value, which is only as expensive as an attribute lookup on a conventional object.

Operations on vec.Vector2 objects compute their result using the cheapest approach. If you have a vec.Vector2 object defined using polar coordinates, and you call .rotate() or .scale() on it, all the math is done in the polar domain. On the other hand, adding vectors is always done in the cartesian domain, so if you add a polar vector to any other vector, its cartesian coordinates will be computed--and the resulting vector will always be defined using cartesian coordinates.

Actually, that last statement isn't always true. There's a special case for adding two polar vectors which have the exact same theta: just add their r values. That approach is much cheaper than converting to cartesian, and more precise as well, returning a vector defined using polar coordinates! vec.Vector2 takes advantage of many such serendipities, computing your vectors as cheaply and accurately as possible.


vec.Vector2(x=None, y=None, *, r=None, theta=None, r_squared=None)

Constructs a vec.Vector2 object. You may pass in as many or as few of these arguments as you like; however, you must pass in either both x and y or both r and theta. Any attributes not passed in at construction time will be lazily computed at the time they are evaluated.

(vec.Vector2 only does some validation of its arguments. It ensures that r and theta are normalized. However, it doesn't check that (x, y) and (r, theta) describe the same vector. If you pass in x and y, and a theta and r that don't match, you'll get back the vec.Vector2 that you asked for. Good luck.)

vec.Vector2 objects support five attributes: x, y, r, theta, and r_squared. It doesn't matter whether the object was defined with cartesian or polar coordinates; these all work. r_squared is equivalent to r*r but it's much cheaper to compute based on cartesian coordinates.

vec.Vector2 objects support the iterator protocol. You can call len() on vec.Vector2 objects--and it'll always return 2. You can also iterate over them, which will yield the x and y attributes in that order.

vec.Vector2 objects support the sequence protocol. You can subscript them, which behaves as if the vec.Vector2 object is a tuple of length 2 containing the x and y attributes.

vec.Vector2 objects also support the boolean protocol; you may use them with boolean operators, and you may call bool() on them. When used in a boolean context, the zero vector evaluates to False, and all other vectors evaluate to True.

vec.Vector2 objects are hashable.

vec.Vector2 objects support the following operators:

  • v1 + v2 adds the two vectors together.
  • v1 - v2 subtracts the right vector from the left vector.
  • v1 * scalar mulitplies the vector by a scalar amount, equivalent to v1.scale(scalar).
  • v1 / scalar divides the vector by a scalar amount.
  • +v1 is exactly the same as v1.
  • -v1 returns the opposite of v1, such that v1 + (-v1) should be the zero vector. (This may not always be the case due to compounding floating-point errors.)
  • v1 == v2 is True if the two vectors are exactly the same, and False otherwise.
  • v1 != v2 is False if the two vectors are exactly the same, and True otherwise.

vec.Vector2 objects support the following methods:


Returns a new vec.Vector2 object, equivalent to the original vector multiplied by that scalar.


Returns a new vec.Vector2 object, equivalent to the original vector with its length set to r.


Returns a new vec.Vector2 object, equivalent to the original vector scaled to length 1.


Returns a new vec.Vector2 object, equal to the original vector rotated by theta radians.

Returns the "dot product" selfother. This result is a scalar value, not a vector.


Returns the "cross product" selfother. This result is a scalar value, not a vector.

Note: technically, there is no "cross product" defined for 2-dimensional vectors. In actuality this returns the "perpendicular dot product", or "perp dot product", of the two vectors, because that's what people actually want when they ask for the "cross product" of two 2D vectors.


Returns a 2-tuple of (self.r, self.theta).

vec.Vector2.lerp(other, ratio)

Returns a vector representing a linear interpolation between self and other, according to the scalar ratio ratio. ratio should be a value between (and including) 0 and 1. If ratio is 0, this returns self. If ratio is 1, this returns other. If ratio is 0.4, this returns (self * 0.6) + (other * 0.4).


The immutable, eternal "zero" vec.Vector2 vector object. vec guarantees that every zero vector is a reference to this object:

>>> v = vec.Vector2(0, 0)
>>> v is vec.vector2_zero

Mathematically-speaking, the zero vector when expressed in polar coordinates doesn't have a defined angle. Therefore vec defines its zero vector as having an angle of None.

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