Conway's Game of Life

An Introduction to Cellular Automata

Recent developments

Being devised in 1970 the Game of Life is a thing from the early years of computing. If you listened to John Conways interview you may have noticed him mentioning that the Game of Life was investigated on paper in the early years. With the advent of home computers it gained in popularity and is now something most people who start programming will come across earlier or later. It's like the "Hello World" of graphics programming. What makes the game of life fascinating is the simplicity of its rules and the complexity of the patterns the result from this simple set of rules. The following sections will discuss some of the more recent findings of the community evolving around the "Game of Life".

The OCTA metapixel

In the interview with Numberphile John Conway mentioned that the Game of Life could be used for arbitrary computation. If you ask yourself what this means and how this is supposed to look like you should have a look at the following Video demonstrating the implementation of Game of Life in Game of Life.

External Content: Video courtesy of Youtube / Phillip Bradbury

Video: "Life in Life" by Phillip Bradbury [3]. Created with the life simulator Golly using the OCTA metapixel

The basic building block of this simulation is the OCTA metapixel [3]. This is a 2048 x 2048 Unit cell designed by Brice Due in the year 2006. A unit cell is a construct in a cellular automaton that is capable of simulating another cellular automate possibly itself. There are other Unit cells like the P5760 unit Life cell devised earlier but the OCTA metapixel is unique in its resemblence of an actual cell. As far as i'm concerned this is close to black magic and a beautiful thing to watch.

Smooth Life

Smooth Life is the extension of the Game of Life to a continuous domain. It is using floating point values instead of integers. The SmoothLife rules were created by Stephan Rafler [5]. The video shown below was created by Tim Hutton with SmoothLife. A more extensive collection of SmoothLife videos can be found on the SmoothLife Video Channel.

External Content: Video courtesy of Youtube / Tim Hutton

Video: SmoothLife shows many of the well known structures from the Game of Life such as Gliders in a stunningly beautiful visualization that is looking like microbial life forms. (Video © 2012; Tim Hutton)
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