Game of Life: Explore Emergence

Play cellular automata games based on John Conway’s Game of Life and learn key principles about emergence at The Emergent Universe, an online interactive science museum.

The Game of Life: It’s all about interactions!

Play cellular automata games based on John Conway’s Game of Life and learn key principles about emergence at The Emergent Universe, an online interactive science museum.

Don’t the objects moving across the screen look alive?

In fact, these “objects” are created by individual squares on a fixed grid turning on (white) and off (black). The resultant “objects” move across the screen in the same way “the wave” moves through a sports stadium. The squares, like the people in the stadium, never move. They just turn on and off.

How do the squares know when to change color? [find out]

Explore rules:

There is no central control telling these squares what to do. Instead, their organized behavior emerges from a simple set of rules. Each square’s fate in the next iteration is determined by the current state of its 8 neighboring squares.

Seeds Rules:

Life Rules:

Explore starting patterns:

Simple interactions between neighboring squares – feedback – can generate very complex behaviors, creating apparent “objects” that live and die. These organized behaviors arise even though there is no leader.

Resources

Game of Life

Play life online: http://www.ibiblio.org/lifepatterns/

Download the Game of Life: http://golly.sourceforge.net/

More about how Life works: http://www.math.com/students/wonders/life/life.html

Original Scientific American article: http://www.ibiblio.org/lifepatterns/october1970.html

W. Poundstone, The Recursive Universe (William Morrow, NY, 1985).

Cellular Automata

An introduction: http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/notebooks/cellular-automata.html

An introduction with simple Java applet cellular automata: http://math.hws.edu/xJava/CA/CA.html

Agent-Based Simulations (No Leader)

An introduction: http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Agent_based_modeling

Simulations used to illustrate issues in emergence: M. Resnick, Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams: Explorations in Massively Parallel Microworlds (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1997).

Short article by M. Resnick illustrating how agent-based modeling sheds light on emergent phenomena: http://llk.media.mit.edu/papers/alife/

View an example StarLogo simulation: http://education.mit.edu/starlogo-tng/complexity/

Search Terms

game of life, cellular automata, agent based modeling

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