Ep 98: Conway’s game of life

Conway’s game of life

In the previous episode we talked about cellular automata, and John von Neumann’s self-replicating system. While he used cellular automata with 29 different states for each cell, a much simpler game is capable of creating self-replicating systems. A British mathematician created his game of life in the 1950/s. In 1970, an article in “Scientific American” popularized his game. Since then self-replicating patterns, and universal computers have been created within his game.

As I mentioned it in today’s episode, here’s a link to my blog series on how computers compute.

Water or steam? to build my computing machine?

Here’s a page that provides a nice overview of the game of life, and how a Turing complete system can be constructed within it.

The Wild World of Cellular Automata

Here are a couple of catalogs of different interesting patterns within the game.

Life Lexicon


Here are a few universal computer patterns that have been created.

A Turing Machine in Conway’s Game of Life, extendable to a Universal Turing Machine

Igblan – Life Universal Computer

Sliding block memory

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