What is Wireworld?
What is Wireworld?
Wireworld is a cellular automaton on an infinite square grid, invented by Brian Silverman in about 1984. It appeared as part of his ‘Phantom Fish Tank’ program in 1987, but we only found out about it when it was described in Scientific American in January 1990. The automaton has a similar flavour to J. H. Conway’s well-known ‘Game of Life’.
The elements of Wireworld
Each cell can be in one of four different states, forming a pattern on the grid. The four states are:
The rules of Wireworld
Time proceeds in discrete steps called generations. At each generation the state of each cell may change; whether it changes, and what it changes to, depend on its current state and the state of its eight nearest neighbour cells according to a simple set of rules:
We can set up any desired initial state on the grid and observe its evolution over a number of generations. The pattern below consists of a single row of copper cells with an electron head-tail pair on it. What happens when we let it evolve?
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