Conway's Game of Life

Early Patterns:

What is it?

The Game of Life, also known simply as Life, is a cellular automaton devised by the British mathematician John Horton Conway in 1970. The "game" 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 or, for advanced players, by creating patterns with particular properties.

The Rules

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. Every cell interacts with its eight neighbours, which are the cells that are horizontally, vertically, or diagonally adjacent. At each step in time, the following transitions occur:

  1. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if caused by under-population.
  2. Any live cell with two or three live neighbours lives on to the next generation.
  3. Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies, as if by over-population.
  4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.

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 (in other words, each generation is a pure function of the preceding one). The rules continue to be applied repeatedly to create further generations.

*Theoretically infinite. Obviously a truly infinite 2d grid would be impossible. In other words, don't expect the above grid to go on forever.

How to Use This Page

If you wish to bring a dead cell to life, click on it. If you wish to kill a living cell, click on it. If you want the pattern to run automatically click play, then click stop when you want it to stop (you cannot edit the universe when it's running automatically). If you want to wipe the universe clean of live cells click clear. If you want to only move the pattern forward a single step, just press step. There are several premade patterns for you to try as well. I would recommend GGG (Gosper Glider Gun), my personal favorite.

If you want to learn more about the Game of Life you can find the wikipedia page here.