April 13, 2020

John Conway, inventor of "Game of Life", Dies From Coronavirus

John Horton Conway  was an English mathematician active in the theory of finite groups, knot theory, number theory, combinatorial game theory and coding theory. He also made contributions to many branches of recreational mathematics, most notably the invention of the cellular automaton called the Game of Life.

The Game of Life is a zero-player game, meaning that its evolution is determined by its initial state, requiring no further input. 

One interacts with the Game of Life by creating an initial configuration and observing how it evolves. It is Turing complete and can simulate a universal constructor or any other Turing machine.

Read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway%27s_Game_of_Life

The universe of the Game of Life is an infinite, two-dimensional orthogonal grid of square cells, each of which is in one of two possible states, alive or dead, (or populated and unpopulated, respectively).

Every cell interacts with its eight neighbours, which are the cells that are horizontally, vertically, or diagonally adjacent. These rules, which compare the behavior of the automaton to real life, can be condensed into the following:

  • Any live cell with two or three live neighbors survives.
  • Any dead cell with three live neighbors becomes a live cell.
  • All other live cells die in the next generation. Similarly, all other dead cells stay dead.

The initial pattern constitutes the seed of the system. The first generation is created by applying the above rules simultaneously to every cell in the seed; births and deaths occur simultaneously, and the discrete moment at which this happens is sometimes called a tick. Each generation is a pure function of the preceding one. The rules continue to be applied repeatedly to create further generations.

The game is interesting because you can start with an extremely simple rule, give it some time (say million years) and see an amazing variety of interactions coming out... this also leads to the conclusion you do not an intelligent being (say God) to create life.

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