©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.

----> To dgb@well.com home page

This page maintained by dgb@well.com