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HexLife

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©1999, David G. Ballinger

This is a hexagonal adaptation of Conway's game of Life.
The classic game of life is a computer simulation of a cellular automata
algorithm invented in 1970 by british mathematician John Conway. (Conway
actually invented the game not on a computer but on a Go board.) Cellular
Automata are collections virtual 'cells' that behave and react to each other
according to a common set of simple rules. Each cell reproduces, transforms
itself, and dies based on its own state and the states of its immediate
neighbors. A striking characteristic of cellular automata is their ability
to generate complex continuously evolving patterns from a simple starting
pattern. Conway's Life plays itself on a rectangular grid. Each cell has
eight neighbors and thrives only if two or three of its neighbors are alive.
If more than three of its neighbors are alive, it dies from overcrowding;
less than two, it dies of 'loneliness'. A pretty good explanation and java
demo of the original Life game can be found by following
this link.
Here I've adapted Conway's algorithm to a hexagonal grid where
each cell has six neighbors. The original three/two rule doesn't produce
very interesting results with this configuration. In fact, to get something
that propagates in much the same fashion as the original game, neither exploding
out of control or dying off too soon, I had to come up with a set of rules
that takes into account not only the six immediate neighbors but also the
six 'second tier' neighbors that form the points of a star of David. This
set of rules is described here.

You can load one of several predefined starting patterns with
the Load button and the drop-down menu box, or you can experiment with your
own starting patterns by clicking directly on the cells. Clicking the Go
button starts the simulation. When game is running, the go button turns into
a stop button. The simulation can be sped up or slowed down via the slider
at the bottom. Activating the Wrap checkbox causes the "playing field"
of the game to wrap around across opposite sides.

As far as I know, no one else has come up with a hexagonal
version of life. Admittedly, I've only researched this to the point of following
lots of links from Life web pages.

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