Conway’s Game of Life in Three Dimensions

17Sep10

I was playing around with Mike Davis’ Conway processing sketch and found it to be quite addictive. It is a perfect example of very limited and simple rules generating highly complex and indeterminate behaviour – and despite this apparent “randomness”, it’s fascinating how a number of recognisable patterns emerge out of the system. I haven’t seen it created in three dimensions before, so I thought I’d try it out and see how the variety of the system changes. Immediately I realised that the starting alive cell density had to be reduced by about 1/5 (in comparison with Mike Davis Processing sketch), and that it worked best with the birth-cell count at 4 rather than at 3. I’m still trying to tweak the code, so if anybody has any suggestions please post them in the comments section.

Brian Eno explains Conway’s Game of Life at a conference in San Francisco in 1996:


“Life is a very simple game, unlike the one we’re in. It only actually has a few rules, which I will now tell you. You divide up an area into squares. You won’t see the squares on the demonstration I’m about to do. And a square can either be dead or alive. There’s a live square. Here’s another one. There’s another one. There’s another one there.

The rules are very simple. In the next generation, the next click of the clock, the squares are going to change statuses in some way or another. The square which has one or zero neighbors is going to die, a live square that has one or zero neighbors is going to die. A square which has two neighbors is going to survive. A square with three neighbors is going to give birth, is going to come alive, if it isn’t already alive. A square with four or more neighbors is going to die of over crowding.

These are terribly simple rules and you would think it probably couldn’t produce anything very interesting. Conway spent apparently about a year finessing these simple rules. They started out much more complicated than that. He found that those were all the rules you needed to produce something that appeared life-like.”

{source = inmotionmagazine}

Play with the applet here.

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