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simulation home Conway Life, Page 1 conway life, page 2

In a strict sense this is not really a game. The concept was first proposed by a mathematician named John Conway and was published in Scientific American in 1970. It is sometimes known as the Conway’s game of Life. Basically, it simulates the life of a ‘computer organism’ (or a cell) based on some predefined rules. These simple rules determine how a cell colony could multiply, live or die. Depending on its initial stage, a cell colony (collection of cells arranged in a certain pattern) may evolve to some complex patterns, a stable colony with no change in population or eventually die after a certain period of time.

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A Conway world basically consists of a board divided evenly by grids. Each grid can only occupy by one cell at any time. A cell once exists can survive a minimum of one time unit or Generation. At the next Generation the fate of each cell will be determined by the following rules:

If the cell has:
(a) one or no neighbor it will die, as if due to loneliness.
(b) four or more neighbors it will die, as if by over-population.
(c) two or three neighbors it will survive.
(d) An unoccupied or empty grid will become populated if it has three neighboring cells.

Cells that die will be removed from the grid; cells that survive will remain intact; and an empty grid that fulfil rule (d) will be occupied by a new cell. Following these rules, generation after generation a cell colony may produce a variety of outcomes. For example, the colony may thrive for a period of time before it abruptly collapses, just like a fallen empire in a real life! By changing these simple rule one essentially changes the behavior of cell colonies. Interestingly, the above-mentioned Conway rules are among the few ones that are able to generate interesting patterns.

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