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Games of life

Faux, David A., Shah, Mayank and Knapp, Christopher (2020) Games of life American Journal of Physics, 88 (5). pp. 371-378.

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Cellular automata are widely used in undergraduate physics courses to educate students in elementary programming and for project work. Cellular automata are coded with simple rules yet provide a rich if well-trodden landscape for exploring aspects of physics such as diffusion and magnetism. Mathematical games, such as the minority game or the prisoner's dilemma, are also amenable to project work with the added dimension of applications in finance, econophysics, and social physics. Conway's classical game of life is both a mathematical game and a cellular automaton. We exploit adaptations of Conway's game of life as an opportunity for undergraduate students to explore new territory within the safe haven of an easy-to-implement cellular automaton. Students may discover new “lifeforms” comprising collections of live, dead, and part-live cells, and explore the escalation of floating-point errors leading to chaos-like behavior, amongst many phenomena not observed in Conway's classical counterpart.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Physics
Authors :
Faux, David
Shah, Mayank
Knapp, Christopher
Date : 21 April 2020
DOI : 10.1119/10.0000666
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2020 American Association of Physics Teachers. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and AIP Publishing. This article appeared in American Journal of Physics 88:5 pp.371-378 and may be found at
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 29 May 2020 14:38
Last Modified : 29 May 2020 14:38

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