Conway’s Game of Life

Conway's game of life simulation

Conway’s Game of Life is a simulation of cells interacting with other cells, or an example of cellular automata. White squares represent dead cells, and black squares represent live cells. There a few simple rules governing the universe:

  • Any cell with less than 2 neighbors dies from loneliness
  • Any cell with over 3 neighbors dies from overpopulation
  • Any cell with 2 or 3 neighbors stays alive
  • Any dead cell with exactly 3 neighbors can become alive (through reproduction)

The simulation is performed using these rules, which are repeated over and over on the entire grid. These simple rules can lead to extraordinarily complex systems. Most systems, however, (especially random ones) will eventually collapse into unmoving shapes or simple oscillators. I created a version of Life in JavaScript using the HTML5 canvas. A 2-dimensional array stores the grid of squares. You can run it here or see the code here. The simulation is completed in a “closed” universe, where I have border cells (not shown on the screen) on the edges to prevent calculation errors with cells missing neighbors. These cells are always white and have no calculations performed on them. The program I wrote is not interactive, as I just wanted to see if I could make a version of Life using JavaScript. I might make an interactive one in the future, but for now I would recommend this simulation that I have been using. My programs starts with half of the cells alive (randomly selected) and eventually stabilizes. If you refresh, the simulation will restart.