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Roger L. Costello wrote:
> Hi Tom,
> I recall you mentioning this before. I am interested! Another confession - I
> am not familiar with The Game of Life. Can you provide me with the info to get
> me smart on this? /Roger
See e.g., http://www.math.com/students/wonders/life/life.html
Here is an applet -
Here is a page of related links, although some of them seem to be broken -
Life is one example of a "cellular autonomon". It comprises a grid of
cells. The game proceeds in steps. The color of a cell is determined
by the color (or aliveness) of its surrounding cells according to a
small set of rules. The grid is salted with an initial pattern, then
the system proceeds tock by tick, recalculating the grid each time.
Some initial patterns die out rapidly. Some create interesting patterns
that traverse the grid or expand and contract. And a few develop stable
patterns - sometimes the patterns cycle between two or more states as
they traverse across the grid. That is the emergent behavior.
The system has feedback in the sense that the output from one tick
becomes the entire input for the next tick. The key is the set of
rules, as it turns out. The rules of Life occasionally lead to
interesting behavior, but apparently most sets of rules do not.
The stable patterns can act as primitive logic gates, like NAND and NOR
gates - I think this was discussed in Scientific American years ago,
IIRC. Thus in principle a sufficiently large grid could act as a
general purpose computer, since a clock and a set of NAND gates can be
used to perform any logic function.