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Marwa's picture

Langton's Ant and Wave Machine

I looked at the Wave Machine model on Netlogo. http://ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo/models/run.cgi?WaveMachine.821.558 The model basically shows wave motion inside a square frame. A rectangular green area represents a plate that moves up and down, and the area surrounding it (made up of lines of turtles) move up and down based on its motion, creating a wave. The wave bounces from the sides too. It looks like a relatively complicated spring-like motion when seen in 3D. It is actually a set of simple rules. The frame is made up of turtles, each connected to its four surrounding neighbors. The green plate moves in sinusoidal motion, up and down, and it pulls its neighbors with that motion. They in turn pull their neighbors up or down. When the motion reaches the edge, it is reflected back towards the center. And that creates the model of a wave.


The user can change the amplitude of the wave, the amount of friction and the level of stiffness, which is the force exerted on a turtle based on the deflection between the turtle and its neighbors. The user can also change the position of the driver and the frequency with which it moves up and down. The 2D view is not as informative as the 3D.


Similarly, the Langton's Ant was made up of two very simple rules and that led to a model that looked more complicated. In both cases, we get an interesting result from a set of simple things interacting in simple ways. I think the Langton's Ant gives rise to more “surprising” result than the wave machine. Given the rules, it is easier to figure out what the wave machine would do than the Langton's ant.


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