# cellular automaton

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## cellular automaton

[′sel·yə·lər ȯ′täm·ə·tən]
(computer science)
A theoretical model of a parallel computer which is subject to various restrictions to make practicable the formal investigation of its computing powers.
(mathematics)
A mathematical construction consisting of a system of entities, called cells, whose temporal evolution is governed by a collection of rules, so that its behavior over time may appear highly complex or chaotic.

## cellular automaton

(algorithm, parallel)
(CA, plural "- automata") A regular spatial lattice of "cells", each of which can have any one of a finite number of states. The state of all cells in the lattice are updated simultaneously and the state of the entire lattice advances in discrete time steps. The state of each cell in the lattice is updated according to a local rule which may depend on the state of the cell and its neighbors at the previous time step.

Each cell in a cellular automaton could be considered to be a finite state machine which takes its neighbours' states as input and outputs its own state.

The best known example is J.H. Conway's game of Life.

FAQ.

Usenet newsgroups: news:comp.theory.cell-automata, news:comp.theory.self-org-sys.

## cellular automaton

A state machine that consists of an array of cells, each of which can be in one of a finite number of possible states. The cells are updated synchronously in discrete time steps, according to a local, identical interaction rule. The state of a cell at the next time step is determined by the current states of a surrounding neighborhood of cells. The transitions are usually specified in the form of a rule table that defines the cell's next state for each possible neighborhood configuration. The cellular array (grid) is typically from one to three dimensions. Highly parallel, locally connected and using simple elemental units, cellular automata can perform so-called cellular computing. See state machine.

The Firefly Constructed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne by Moshe Sipper and his colleagues, the Firefly machine is an FPGA-based hardware implementation of a cellular automaton which modifies its functioning dynamically. The system is based on the cellular programming approach, in which parallel cellular machines evolve to solve computational tasks. (Image taken by Andre Badertscher; courtesy of Dr. Moshe Sipper.)
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