Hdk 14 custom particle system help

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I am a noob in HDK and am trying my hand in writing a basic particle system for an assignment following SOP_SParticle.C sample file provided . After reading the documentation several times , I don't think I grasp all the nuances in writing your own particle system generator in Houdini 14.
The HDK documentation is good but is very confusing since the examples provided and Change in syntax really makes it unintiutive if I want to add features.
I want to know if there is a way to calculate my own collision response and collision determination and get the distance from the nearest polygonal surface.
what do I need to do?
The reason is I want Houdini to calculate the distance of my particle from a surface using its built in Octree so its efficient.
In other words I want Houdini to calculate the collision detection or at least give me the distance efficiently while I do the calculations for the bounce and friction.
This is purely for learning purposes . Any guidance in this or even properly creating a custom particle sop will help.
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