The Game of Life

With thanks to John Conway

A world ... consisting of locations which may (green) or may not (red) be occupied by life. And time ... as many steps as you like. And a very simple set of rules ... Got it? Simple, no? So what would life look like in such a world? Would it die out? Persist as a disordered, ever changing blob? Create stable, discrete entities? Does it matter what the starting conditions are?

Try it out. Clicking on locations in the world will change them from unoccupied to occupied (and back again), so you can start with any arrangement you like. Then click on the left button to see what happens after one time step, or on the middle button to run through ten time steps at once. You can click either button again to keep going as long as you want. There is also a control panel if you want to do some fancier things. Either way, let's go.

Sorry, but your browser isn't capable of displaying Java applets. You'll need to upgrade it and come back. In the meanwhile, you can try a non-Java based interactive version of the Game of Life elsewhere .

A moveable control panel will appear if you click the right button below the world. You can start with a random pattern by clicking on the middle button on the control panel (the slider above it lets you vary how many occupied cells occur in the random pattern). You can also vary the number of locations in the world (top slider), clear the world (top button), and vary the number of time steps you see at one time (the bottom slider) when you click the bottom button. The save button allows you to store a pattern so you can bring it back (with the recall button) to make modifications and run it again.

The Game of Life was invented by John Horton Conway, a British mathematician, and described by Martin Gardner in his Mathematical Games in Scientific American in 1970 (Scientific American 223(4), October, 1970, pp 120-123). The game itself continues to be actively explored (see Paul's Page of Conway's Life Miscellany for current descriptions of findings and links to other Life related websites).

Created by Paul Grobstein , Deepak Kumar, and Bogdan Butoi. Java applet by Bogdan Butoi.

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