John Conway's Game of life

Peter Elger

August 1st 2017

You might be wondering what that funny looking image is on the original fourTheorem home page. Well, its a snapshot of Conway’s game of life which was devised in the 1970’s by mathematician John Conway.

The game is fairly simple to implement, in fact, it is often given to first year CS students as an exercise. From the construction of a grid of cells, a few simple rules and an initial state the game produces ‘universes’ of ‘creatures’ that move and interact with each other. From still forms such as ‘block’ and ‘beehive’ to more complex entities like Gosper’s glider gun.

The game of life demonstrates how, from a few simple rules, unexpected phenomena can arise. It is is an example of emergent complexity and is also fascinating to watch and experiment with.

Check out this video for a deeper explanation of the significance of the Game of Life!