Awk Programming II: Life in a Shell

The game of Life was invented in the ’70 by the prolific mathematician John H. Conway (on the 11/4/2020 sadly J.H. Conway passed away at the age of 82 after having contracted the COVID-19, see [5] for his biography). The game becomes popular after Martin Gardner described it in his famous column in the Scientific American magazine [1,2].  The game is based on cellular automata conceived by Konrad Zuse and Stanislaw M. Ulam at beginning of the ’50 and then adopted by John von Neumann for his study on self-replicating automata [2,3]. A cellular automaton is composed of interacting units (cells) arranged in a square grid. The system evolves in life cycles where each cell change status and new cells can be born, and others can survive or eventually die. The status of each cell in the next cycle is defined by the interaction with their neighbor cells according to a given set of rules. The interaction occurs with the first neighbors of each cell. As shown in Figure 1, two type of neighbor’s cells (circles) can be used, the game of Life uses the Moore type neighborhood.

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