Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Math Games Science

A New Glider Found For Conway's Game of Life 50

An anonymous reader writes "Conway's Game of Life is now forty two years old, but it continues to inspire as well as being the basis of an actively researched field, with computer scientists now announcing they have found a new form of the famous 'glider' pattern (once suggested by Eric S Raymond as the insignia of computer hackers) that runs over a so-called Penrose universe."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

A New Glider Found For Conway's Game of Life

Comments Filter:
  • by Apocryphon ( 1849660 ) * on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:09AM (#40904335)
    "Life enthusiast Adam Goucher has discovered ...."

    About time! I've always found the terms pro-life and pro-choice too politicized and constraining.... I'm a life enthusiast!
  • by Dave Whiteside ( 2055370 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:19AM (#40904431)

    it's not a new glider in the game of life , but a glider in the Penrose tiled universe - inspired by Conways Game of life...

    the article need to be read

    it is seriously cool though

    • by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:35AM (#40904615) Homepage Journal

      not life as we know it

      I'm a doctor, not a tile layer, Jim!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      _I'd_ always played in the original orthoginal universe. Never considered other tilings - but isn't Penrose rather messy and counterintuitive?
      Now that I think about it, I'd have thought the next logical universe would be hexagonal. Has anyone _created_ an hexagonal application/simulation?

      • by uigrad_2000 ( 398500 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @11:08AM (#40905611) Homepage Journal

        I'm pretty sure I attempted a hexagonal game of life. It's the first thing people would think to try after discovering Conway's original version.

        The problem with the hexagonal version is that each tile has only 6 neighbors, as opposed to 8 in Conway's version. This reduces the complexity so finding interesting patterns is a lot more difficult. The way around this is to add more states.

        After reading the article, it sounds like one researcher theorized that a stable glider could not be found for the Penrose tiling, and offered $100 to anyone who did. Some other friends of his found an answer, but had to "cheat" by expanding the number of states (for a given tile) from 2 to 4.

        It is kind of cool, or would be if they actually showed the 4 states and the exact rules. Since they decided to leave the technical explanation out, it's a rather uninteresting article. It's not really slashdot worthy, in my own humble opinion.

      • That would be an interesting next step to take. When I took my first CS class I put my own spin on the Game of Life, it was still an orthogonal board, but with two species, Cows and Wolves, with different propagation rules. You could make some interesting gliders with them, the Wolves appeared to chase the Cows.
  • not the same (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eyenot ( 102141 ) <> on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:24AM (#40904475) Homepage

    They didn't prove anything except that by increasing the complexity of 'Life', they can force some kind of complex behaviour that would have been impossible for the simpler version we're all more familiar with. They changed the rules from 'alive or dead' tiles to '00 01 10 or 11' tiles. There are two different rhomboids in the Penrose tile universe they're playing in, so it seems to make sense that you will find some sufficiently complex means of navigating it if you observe two bits at once.

    I think it should have been couched differently: Penrose universe NOT non-repeating, given a sufficiently complex, self-changing pattern to look for.

    • Re:not the same (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:35AM (#40904617)

      You have it backwards. By increasing the complexity, namely by making the pattern of tiles non-repeating, it was believed things like gliders were impossible. That turns out not to be the case.

      The existence of the glider has nothing to do with whether the universe is non-repeating or not. Penrose universes are mathematical constructs that are proven to be non-repeating.

  • Inspiration (Score:5, Funny)

    by David89 ( 2022710 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:26AM (#40904505) Homepage
    Stuff like this toinspires me everyday
  • I can't deny that I almost had to look up the word "toinspire" in the dictionary.

    • by julesh ( 229690 )

      That's 'cos you're not Irish. If you were, you'd know the toinspire is what you find on top of the toin church.

  • by stanlyb ( 1839382 )
    Do you know that this game proved the possibility of having speed faster than the speed of the light? God Bless The Speed Of Information.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The famous "warp tunnel" construct in Conway's Game of Life did not make information go faster than the speed of light.

      It did make information move across the board faster than the theoritical limit of the board. But nothing actually moved across real space faster than the real speed of light.

      Also...the trick by which this was accomplished involves constantly creating the information in advance and failing to destroy it from the back-end when something else is present (which itself gets destoryed). A diff

  • As expected... (Score:5, Informative)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:41AM (#40904691)

    Its creation is an achievement because gliders were previously thought to exist only in regular cellular automata, such as the most famous one, the Game of Life

    On wikipedia that would get flagged as weasel words (or the whole article deleted for non-notoriety). Who thinks gliders should only exist in regular automata? If anything my opinion is that modern automata thought was the other way around, expecting them to exist.

    Note that gliders are not rare or unusual in automata. Some of the first original researchers thought that only gliders/spaceships that exist lived only in Conways GoL but further research a long time ago showed they're ridiculously commonplace in other rulesets. As seen below. So the tone of this discovery is more accurately described as "much as we suspected, but never bothered to prove, until now" rather than the stereotypical serendipitous discovery tone of "that result looks weird, WTF, who ever would have guessed"

    This is separate from the penrose tile thing, which I don't follow. It might, or might not, be the case that a glider in the very specific ruleset of penrose tiles is a hard problem. But in the wide universe of all rulesets, gliders/spaceships and stuff seem very widespread. As a general rule if a ruleset is terminally boring then it definitely does not have gliders, but if its not terminally boring then almost all of them have either chaotic and/or glider-like behavior. []

    ".... I have investigated whether gliders exist in many semitotalistic rules similar to Life, where the behavior of a cell depends only on its own state and the number of live neighbors. The results show that the existence of gliders is commonplace ....." []

    ".... We displayed all gliders of Rule 54 including two new glider guns (also extensible) ... "

    Rule 54 has nothing to do with the famous rule 34. Well I guess there are self replicating patterns in CA rule 54 which could be interpreted as pr0n by another one dimensional cellular automata, I guess.

    • Re:As expected... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sFurbo ( 1361249 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @10:19AM (#40905053)
      Gliders are commonplace on repeating grids. According to TFA (and this makes sense), it was thought that they could not be made on non-repeating grids. After all, which direction should it follow? How to make sure it can even exist in the place it will move to?

      However, I feel that by allowing more types of tiles, it should be clear that it was possible. For example, with four types of cells, you could have
      "front of glider" (becomes "back of glider")
      "back of glider" (becomes "not glider")
      "side of glider" to keep the rest in check (keeps status unless in contact with "back of glider", when it becomes "not glider")
      "not glider" (becomes "side of glider" if in contact with one "side of glider" and one "front of glider", becomes "front of glider" if in contact with two "side of glider" and no "back of glider")

      This seems to be what they have done.
      • by vlm ( 69642 )

        it was thought that they could not be made on non-repeating grids.

        I think its a general emergent behavior thing.

        So if something really simple results in ridiculously unpredicted behavior, it seems very unlikely that a system that's even more complicated would have to be more boring. Aside from penrose tiles, just look at the world... much more complicated rule set than Conways GoL (don't get started on the combinatorial and bitstream physics guys here) and movement is in fact possible in the world.

        Another good example is the more dimensions and neighbors a CA has, the mo

        • by sFurbo ( 1361249 )
          It really is a balance: Give it too few possibilties, and it becomes boring. Give it too many possibilities, and it becomes random. Entertaining is somewhere in between. I would put gliders, as defined in CA, at the lower end of interesting, so making it more complex could remove gliders. Gliders isn't just movement, roughly speaking it is movement without change. A rock flying through the ground is a glider, a horse isn't, as it uses energy, so it doesn't return to the same state.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      self replicating patterns in CA rule 54 which could be interpreted as pr0n by another one dimensional cellular automata, I guess.

      Glider Guns are the original CA money shot. Don't get me started on Glider Eaters.

    • by radtea ( 464814 )

      The New Sensationalist article starts out:

      If someone asked you to walk in a straight line over a constantly shifting floor, you would probably declare it impossible after a few tries and a couple of grazed knees.

      Either that, or you're a sailor and have no difficulty walking a straight line over a constantly shifting deck, and think that this declaration is silly, as well as being an excellent example of the fallacy of composition: Penrose tilings have no globally repeating patterns so no globally straight glider path can exist, right?

      Wrong: Penrose tilings are full of local order (thus the name "quasi-crystal" for naturally occurring structures with 5-fold local symmetr

  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:58AM (#40904855)

    This not Conway's game of life.

  • When I first read the summary, I thought they meant Hasbro's Game of Life [], which as a child, is much more fun than a cellular automaton.

    • When I first read the summary, I thought they meant Hasbro's Game of Life [], which as a child, is much more fun than a cellular automaton.

      I would disagree for the state of today's children's educational passtimes. Logo and Conway's were great fun to play with as a kid. But at least Hasbro's Game of Life did show that you always do better by getting a college education.

    • I don't know, as a child I had a competitive multiplayer version of Conway's Game of Life that was pretty fun.

      Actually I wish I remembered what it was called. Each player could place a number of cells, then a configurable number of rounds pass and you can place again. The goal being to wipe out all the other players cells. Different colored cells would participate with each other for suffocation, and iirc for replication it would match the majority of the neighbors.

  • After the third, I figured I wasn't going to wait any longer to get to the content. Time to blacklist newscientist I guess.

  • This is NOT "Conway's game of life". I rushed frantically to TFA in disbelief, only to be disappointed.

    Are your misleading titles and summaries a pathetic attempt to prove you can still pull a "slashdot effect" on sites nowadays?

    Be warned, your readership's patience is not endless. Mine certainly isn't.


"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller