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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.


Tom P


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