In this chapter we consider two-dimensional cellular automatons, especially John Conway’s Game of Life (GoL). Like some of the 1-D CAs in the previous chapter, GoL follows simple rules and produces surprisingly complicated behavior. And like Wolfram’s Rule 110, GoL turns out to be universal; that is, it can compute any computable function, at least in theory.
Complex behavior in GoL raises issues in the philosophy of science, particularly related to scientific realism and instrumentalism. I discuss these issues and suggest additional reading.
At the end of the chapter, I demonstrate ways to implement GoL efficiently in Python.
The code for this chapter is in chap06.ipynb in the repository for this book. More information about working with the code is in Section 0.3.