BFOIT - Introduction to Computer Programming

The Game of Life

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Draw some patterns (communities of life) by clicking the left mouse button on squares to bring them to life.  Then click on the [Step] button to watch what happens as the rules are applied in one cycle of Life.  To repeat the cycle over and over forever, click on the [Go] button.

The Game of Life (invented by mathematician John Conway) is an example of Cellular Automaton.

			A cellular automaton is a collection of "colored" cells on a grid of
			specified shape that evolves through a number of discrete time steps
			according to a set of rules based on the states of neighboring cells.
			The rules are then applied iteratively for as many time steps as
			desired. (from

The "Game of Life" plays out on a grid.  The squares of the grid are called cells.  A cell that is alive is colored in.  The rules for Life are simple.  They are:

  1. In order for a cell to remain alive, it must have two or three neighbors.
  2. If a live cell has less than two neighbors, it dies (loneliness).
  3. If a live cell has more than three neighbors, it dies (over-crowdedness).
  4. If an empty cell has exactly two neighbors, it comes to life.

A cell's neighbors are the eight cells which surround it (to its north, northeast, east, etc...).