The Game Of Life
- Rules
- Patterns: examples
- Patterns: classification
- John Conway
- The Game of Life now
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The Game of Life

What's about it now?

After 30 years there are still questions to be answered about the Game of Life. A fantastic up to date website is online that documents which patterns and periods have yet to be discovered. Very few of them have been proven impossible, so exciting searches are sure to delight the Life enthusiast in the future.

The biggest question that has existed in the Game of Life's 30 year lifespan is its ability to act and compute like a Turing Machine. It has been shown that the Life universe can be set up to replicate logic gates and this has allowed the Game of Life to be used as a universal computer.

Other small questions still lurk around the web and articles about specific patterns, periods, ways to maximize complexity and other oddities related to the fascination with this 'game'. One of these being asked is is it possible to create spaceships (objects that translate across the universe like gliders) that are uncommon and therefore have different speeds and periods. The speed is defined as the amount of translation divided by the number of generations. This is based on c, the speed of light, because the fastest a cell can travel is 1 cell per generation. Now that it has been found that other spaceships can exist, there has been a wave of interest in people to find these spaceships.

Another interesting open problem about the game of life is to show how to build a period-k oscillator for any positive integer k. Before recently there was no metheodical way to find specific period oscillators for all but the smallest k. There are now two methods to find such oscillators, and there is hope to form a complete list of them. This remains a daunting and perhaps impossible task. A extremely complete and technical site about this process is available at part of the radicaleye website maintained by Paul Callahan, probably the most prolific contributor to Life information on the internet.

Bill Gosper, the MIT professor, imagined a super computer dedicated to Life. In his hypothetical world of computer Darwinism, only the fittest cells would survive against impossible mathematical odds. After billions of generations, he theorized, the computer might create intelligent lifeforms.

So new questions remain, some seem futile and some seem rather pointless, but they might result in in findings that are beneficial in the world of artificial intelligence and the other outside applications of this amazingly complex solitaire 'game'. Logo

Last modified February 03 2003 01:37:25.