Grove, Ralph F., Jr. Department of Computer Science, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Conventions and rules
- Self-replicating automata
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A cellular automaton is a hypothetical computer constructed of a regular array of cells that interact with neighboring cells according to a set of simple rules. Though conceptually simple, cellular automata can produce complex and surprising behavior. To computer scientists and mathematicians, cellular automata are of great interest from a theoretical perspective, forming one of the fundamental abstractions (along with Turing machines, finite-state automata, and so on) that are a basic model for all of computing. They are also an example of evolutionary computation, a set of computing techniques that are based on nature's laws of evolution and are important in the related field of artificial life, which involves interest in virtual (computer-based) life forms. To cellular automata hobbyists, they are a dynamic art form that often produces interesting results. See also: Automata theory; Computer; Evolutionary computation
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