A cellular automaton consists of:
(a) A structure of cells, such as the squares on a chess board.
(b) A set of values or "states" such that each cell is associated with a particular state.
(c) A set of rules describing how one state of the system (a particular configuration of cells in specific states) is to be transformed or converted to another state of the system.
This is software for exploring five cellular automata, as follows:
1. An extended version of Conway's Life, called q-state Life.
2. A simulation of the Belousov-Zhabotinsky chemical reaction in which, beginning from a random state of the system, spirals and curlicues "spontaneously" emerge.
3. A process called Togetherness in which cells with random states move so as to maximize the number of neighbors of each cell in the same state as that cell (or, thought of in another way, in which the cells rearrange themselves so as to form maximal clusters of cells all having the same state).
4. Viral Replication, a simulation of a population of dividing cells subject to viral infection.
5. Diffusion-Limited Aggregation, illustrating a process in which particles diffuse (moving randomly) and aggregate to form a fractal structure.
The documentation provides a complete description of the algorithms used.
Five Cellular Automata: http://www.hermetic.ch/pca/pca_setup.zip
Edge Of Chaos: http://www.3dwonders.com/edgeofchaos/edgeofchaossetup.exe
Interesting things happen at the boundary between order and chaos, where the qualities of both states are evident. There is enough order to retain information, and enough chaos to provide variety. Many complex dynamic systems, including life itself, seem to naturally evolve towards this "edge of chaos", where adaptation, problem solving, and evolution by mutation and selection are all exhibited. A good way to explore this interesting phenomenon is to study a famous cellular automaton called "Conway's Game of Life" which inhabits the edge of chaos region. The Game of Life is famous for demonstrating "emergent complexity" - how elaborate patterns and behaviors can emerge from very simple rules. This screensaver allows you to understand and explore the edge of chaos through the Game of Life.