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A few questions:

  • Besides looking really cool, what are the practical uses of "game of life" or "langton's Ant"? I understand how agent-based modeling itself is a potentially useful methodoly, not how the 2D game-of-life representation is useful itself?

  • When trying to develop interesting complicated designs in the game of life, (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2vgICfQawE ) is it safe to assume that there are certain "building blocks" that can be positioned to produce a predictable pattern?

  • does research in this field generally follow the pattern: assign some rules, simulate some data, see how the data matches up with real world stuff, change the rules and repeat?

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    $\begingroup$ Asking for "practical uses" in this context is mostly a misunderstanding. $\endgroup$ Nov 19 '15 at 3:45
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    $\begingroup$ Your second cuestión is weird. Why would you need to assume there are building blocks which produce predicatable patterns, when it is clear that there are? $\endgroup$ Nov 19 '15 at 3:46
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  1. The Game of Life is but one example of: Cellular Automata, which are very useful for modelling complicated, non-linear, systems in physics, chemistry, biology, meteorology, cosmology, computational science, engineering, .... the whole gamut.

  2. Such stable patterns will arise, but are very difficult to predict from the basic laws. Cellular automata are composed of simple deterministic atoms, but higher order behaviour that emerges from the structure (arrangement) of atoms, isn't simple at all.

  3. Something like that, yes. That's the scientific principle at work: observe data, model system, run model, compare result to new data, tweak model, repeat.

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  • $\begingroup$ In direct response to #2: there are indeed predictable patterns that can be synthesized from spaceships (moving "building blocks" that can collide & interact), and experienced designers do take it upon themselves to synthesize complex patterns by stacking known inter-spaceship reactions so as to construct a pattern piece by piece. And for #3, OP seems to hold the misconception that there is always a real-world application for CA tinkering; often there isn't and the process of "research" simply entails tweaking the model until the desired result is achieved solely within the simulation. $\endgroup$
    – hallo
    Aug 6 '17 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have some concrete examples for #1? $\endgroup$
    – Flowryn
    Mar 1 '18 at 9:50
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A practical use for langtons ant has two uses for me. 1. It models lorentz force. Ant moves = point charge displaced due to electric field. Ant rotates = same point charge under magnetic field. Tile colour change models photon event. 2. I have a encryption engine based on the thermodynamic behaviour of the ant. 3. It is poosible to program the ant by setting up the environment with pre determined states and observing. The emergent behaviour which is akin to how a state space machine (cpu) behaves when given assembly language instructions.

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  • $\begingroup$ What's the question? Is it of mathematical nature? $\endgroup$ Jan 20 '17 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ The question was "what is the use of langtons ant" $\endgroup$ Jan 20 '17 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ You can find both the math and an octave iteration script here simple.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Dakoder What more is required ? Graham $\endgroup$ Jan 20 '17 at 19:41

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