The Game of Life

Having just finished Week 11 of The University of Helsinki’s MOOC (at [mooc.fi], I highly suggest it by the way), I believe I now have a very firm understanding of the Java ecosystem. And I thought I might take some time to recognize the creator of the subject of this week’s final project – John H. Conway, the mind behind the Game of Life.If you haven’t yet, watch his interviews on the Numberphile YouTube Channel. They’re incredibly interesting.

tl;dw – basically the Game of Life was started as a mathematical thought problem of a grid consisting of points in either of two states (on/off, or alive/dead) based off of John von Neumann’s similar theoretical machine with 29 different states. It took him about 18 months in his spare time to develop all of the rules and figure out the various “organisms” that could be developed and maintained within it.

Conway’s Game of Life became interesting in many fields, and opened up a new mathematical field of its own called “cellular automata“. It also helped that the inception of it came about during the early stages of inexpensive computer access and inspired early would-be programmers to play around with it during otherwise wasted programming cycles.

Building one of these theoretical Life boards for myself has given me a sense of connection to these early programmers. And while the tools we use today have improved to create many bigger and better things, sometimes its nice to just sit back and see where your own little Life simulation goes for a while.

[John Conway Videos – Numberphile]

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