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Genetic Algorithms and Machine Learning for Programmers by Frances Buontempo

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Your Mission: Make Cells Come Alive

There are many named cellular automata. You’ll see elementary cellular automata in the next chapter. These operate on one-dimensional rows. You can build CAs in two or more dimensions. Christopher Langton, an artificial life researcher, developed a two-dimensional automaton. Langton’s CA has an artificial ant on a grid. The ant walks around, coloring squares as it moves. The ant moves forward to one of the four neighboring squares: left, right, up, or down. Two rules govern the ant’s behavior:

  • On a white square, turn clockwise.
  • On a black square, turn counter-clockwise.

In either case, it flips the color of the current square and steps forward.

You tend to see three things happen in this CA. First, the ant ...

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