The Wireworld computer
These pages describe how we went about building a Wireworld computer. Although at least one design exists for a tape-based Turing machine implemented in the ‘Game of Life’, ours is, as far as we know, the first ever computer implemented as a cellular automaton that you might reasonably want to write a program for. The design was done by David Moore and Mark Owen, with the help of many others, between 1990 and 1992. It’s a testament to our modesty that it was not until September 2004 that we wrote up our work.
You will need a browser capable or rendering looped animated GIFs to fully appreciate the pages that follow. Some of the image files are quite large.
This picture shows the display of the Wireworld computer as it calculates primes. The impatient reader will want to go straight to the last section below; those who prefer their gratification less instant can begin with the first.
Julien Thevenon has reverse-engineered the computer design and produced a much more detailed explanation of its inner workings, including high-level language models of various components. You can read his excellent description at the Laboratoire Ouvert Grenoblois website en VO or in English.
Experimental demonstration of the Wireworld computer in action, calculating primes. Java required.
Jeremy Sachs has implemented the Wireworld automaton in Flash. You can see it running the computer design here.
A modified version of the Wireworld computer which fits comfortably within an 800x600 rectangle in landscape orientation is available in the following formats:
This page most recently updated Fri 8 Apr 16:12:19 BST 2016
New: Free, fast, and accurate ARM Cortex-M3 floating-point library; UnLife; Pound Shop BASIC; Logic Tutor
Qxw is a free (GPL) crossword construction program. Answer treatments, circular and hex grids, jumbled entries, more besides. Release 20140331 for both Linux and Windows. More...
My book, ‘Practical Signal Processing’, is published by Cambridge University Press. You can order it directly from them, or via amazon.co.uk or amazon.com. Paperback edition now also available. Browse before you buy at Google Books. Wydanie polskie.
If you find this site useful or diverting, please consider a donation to NASS (a UK registered charity), to KickAS (in the US), or to a similar body in your own country.
All trademarks used are hereby acknowledged.