Modular Diary – 062

A Sunday side-track: Conway’s Game of Life on Audulus.

There’s a good Wikipedia article on the Game of Life, a cellular automaton devised by John Horton Conway in 1970, in which one creates an initial pattern and watches how it evolves according to a set of basic rules governing transitions for each step in time:

  1. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if caused by underpopulation.
  2. Any live cell with two or three live neighbours lives on to the next generation.
  3. Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies, as if by overpopulation.
  4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.

Depending on the pattern that one uses to seed the game, the transformations fall into an number of categories: The most basic are static Still Lives, Oscillators (with different periods), and gliding Spaceships, all of which can be combined to form more complex patterns, while others might be chaotic in nature. Certain patterns reach a static state or cease entirely after a specific number of transformations, while others evolve continuously.

Jjthrash has been working on an Audulus patch of the game and while he hasn’t yet implemented a form of output I’ve found it fun to tryout different patterns and watch their evolution.

A number of musical applications of the game have already been made, some of them covered in a few articles on Synthtopia. Quincy is one of them with some good video introductions on how the patterns can be put to musical use. I’m looking forward to having these generative sequencing possibilities available within the Audulus sound world.