Friday, September 9, 2011

Game of Life

I was asked an interesting question today: What I understand about John Conway's Game of Life.

Game of Life is the name of a board simulation. The board is a matrix of NxM cells which can either be on or off. Initially, the some cells on the board are on, the rest is off. Each simulation step produces a new board state. The rules are:
  1. A cell neighbors are those surrounding it. There are at most eight of them.
  2. If a cell is surrounded by exactly three cells, it will be turned on.
  3. If a cell is surrounded by exactly two cells, it will remain what it is currently.
  4. Otherwise, a cell will be turned off.
Eric Raymond uses a pattern of this game called a Glider as Hacker Emblem.
My answer was that this simulation was truly Life. When you live in an overcrowded place (more than 3), you get crushed, you die. When you live in a deserted place (less than 2), you also die. Only when you are surrounded by enough people (2 or 3), you remain unchanged. And when the community is just good (3), new life is born. Generation after generation. Things come and go.

How about you? What do you feel about the simulation?

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