He also talks about how it's supposed to be related to Conway's game of life but is actually not (Conway's game of life is a 2D cellular automaton, while rule 30 is 1D).
You can take a 2D automaton like Conway's Game of Life and turn time into a third dimension, giving you a single static volume. Has anyone tried doing that and 3D printing it?
Perhaps easier than 3D printing would be stacked laser-cut acrylic sheets. You could use transparent and partially opaque colors for dead and live cells, which lets you see the interior 3D structures more clearly than purely opaque 3D printed structures. I think the optical quality would likely be a lot better than anything I've seen 3d printed.
I'm interested enough in this idea to see if I can come up with some interesting figures to make.
Here's a few layers of cellular automata (anneal, life and brian) combined with some error diffusion dithered heat flow, for your enjoyment (try clicking and dragging and spinning the mouse wheel):
The rules can be parameterized by dictionaries (including stuff like like simple numeric parameters, or arrays of convolution kernels, or additional lookup tables) that you can tweak while it's running.
(The CAM6 lookup table isn't related to hashlife -- it's simply indexed by concatenating all the bits of the neighborhood together to make a binary number indexing into the table of next states -- that's what the CAM6 hardware did directly at 60 frames a second, on a 256x256 matrix, of 8 bits per cell.)
CAM-6 Forth source code:
Rudy Rucker writes about his CAM-6 in the CelLab manual:
Computer science is still so new that many of the people at the cutting edge have come from other fields. Though Toffoli holds degrees in physics and computer science, Bennett's Ph.D. is in physical chemistry. And twenty-nine year old Margolus is still a graduate student in physics, his dissertation delayed by the work of inventing, with Toffoli, the CAM-6 Cellular Automaton Machine.
After watching the CAM in operation at Margolus's office, I am sure the thing will be a hit. Just as the Moog synthesizer changed the sound of music, cellular automata will change the look of video.
I tell this to Toffoli and Margolus, and they look unconcerned. What they care most deeply about is science, about Edward Fredkin's vision of explaining the world in terms of cellular automata and information mechanics. Margolus talks about computer hackers, and how a successful program is called “a good hack.” As the unbelievably bizarre cellular automata images flash by on his screen, Margolus leans back in his chair and smiles slyly. And then he tells me his conception of the world we live in.
“The universe is a good hack.”
Margolus and Toffoli's CAM-6 board was finally coming into production around then, and I got the Department to order one. The company making the boards was Systems Concepts of San Francisco; I think they cost $1500. We put our order in, and I started phoning Systems Concepts up and asking them when I was going to get my board. By then I'd gotten a copy of Margolus and Toffoli's book, Cellular Automata Machines, and I was itching to start playing with the board. And still it didn't come. Finally I told System Concepts that SJSU was going to have to cancel the purchase order. The next week they sent the board. By now it was August, 1987.
The packaging of the board was kind of incredible. It came naked, all by itself, in a plastic bag in a small box of styrofoam peanuts. No cables, no software, no documentation. Just a three inch by twelve inch rectangle of plastic—actually two rectangles one on top of the other—completely covered with computer chips. There were two sockets at one end. I called Systems Concepts again, and they sent me a few pages of documentation. You were supposed to put a cable running your graphics card's output into the CAM-6 board, and then plug your monitor cable into the CAM-6's other socket. No, Systems Concepts didn't have any cables, they were waiting for a special kind of cable from Asia. So Steve Ware, one of the SJSU Math&CS Department techs, made me a cable. All I needed then was the software to drive the board, and as soon as I phoned Toffoli he sent me a copy.
Starting to write programs for the CAM-6 took a little bit of time because the language it uses is Forth. This is an offbeat computer language that uses reverse Polish notation. Once you get used to it, Forth is very clean and nice, but it makes you worry about things you shouldn't really have to worry about. But, hey, if I needed to know Forth to see cellular automata, then by God I'd know Forth. I picked it up fast and spent the next four or five months hacking the CAM-6.
The big turning point came in October, when I was invited to Hackers 3.0, the 1987 edition of the great annual Hackers' conference held at a camp near Saratoga, CA. I got invited thanks to James Blinn, a graphics wizard who also happens to be a fan of my science fiction books. As a relative novice to computing, I felt a little diffident showing up at Hackers, but everyone there was really nice. It was like, “Come on in! The more the merrier! We're having fun, yeeeeee-haw!”
I brought my AT along with the CAM-6 in it, and did demos all night long. People were blown away by the images, though not too many of them sounded like they were ready to a) cough up $1500, b) beg Systems Concepts for delivery, and c) learn Forth in order to use a CAM-6 themselves. A bunch of the hackers made me take the board out of my computer and let them look at it. Not knowing too much about hardware, I'd imagined all along that the CAM-6 had some special processors on it. But the hackers informed me that all it really had was a few latches and a lot of fast RAM memory chips.
DonHopkins, great work! I wrote a JS engine inspired by the same book too, not so fancy: https://github.com/darius/js-playground/blob/master/ca.js but you can edit JS code live to change the rules and such: http://wry.me/hacking/ca.html I should make it use fatter pixels like you did.
 From 2014: http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/infrastructure/single-vie...
Strange that no one was there to tell them they are wrong. Anyway, how could they get it wrong in the age of Internet? Every bit of information about 'Game of Life' is one click away... :( Agree - that's sad...
1. To their way of thinking, what we think of as "superclasses" are more like classes to them. i.e. They see little difference between GoL and Rule 30. They are essentially the same to them. The aesthetics are similar and the process is similar. Most importantly, the intention or thought process which produced the technique is almost identical.
I like the example below about Eliot vs. Shakespeare, although it's a bit overblown. I don't think architects would go so far as to conflate an entire museum to the entire works of two different individual's lives, especially when the two had such differing approaches to playwrighting. YET, conflating variants of two individuals' algorithms is within their scope, clumsy as it is.
2. Furthermore, architecture is an unclean collusion of politics, aesthetics and technique. It's very difficult for all three of these parties to have the same vision. Errors get amplified. White lies persist to save feelings, face and budgets.
3. In conclusion, yes they are wrong and intellectually lazy, and emotionally fearful about making it right. That brings me to my last point about architecture: Once it's erected, it's generally there to stay, baby. A bird in the hand. This is why architecture is so valuable to politicians. On three fronts: it's protection in the form of walls. It's production in the form of moving people where they need to go. It's influence in the form of symbolic power which will dominate the thinking of all those who pass through those walls. For many years. Who can argue against the triumph of digital patterns in shaping our generation?
Even though we're right, we're right like Big Bang Theory characters. No one wants to agree with us, because we're subordinate to the power of architecture (as leveraged by state politics). Our objections are a cute footnote on a museum tour for your aunt to amaze you with on a holiday weekend :)
As an architect and software developer I will bet my hat that the architects knew exactly what was going on, but said that it was based on the GoL precisely because it would pass the budget.
I wouldn't be surprised if it started out with the GoL, but, thanks to budget reasons, they were forced to fabricate multiple identical panels rather than a total unique facade, and switched to a CA.
Fabricating/plasma cutting such a facade would be hugely pricey and the only thing that would let it survive against a bottom line budget is a political reason - aka a talking point.
They decided meanwhile that they would like to celebrate Wolfram instead?
Or is there any artistic value to celebrate someone with other persons achievements? Some kind of twisted post-modern artistic message about authorship?
Or it looks better for them? For example: lets pay tribute to Amundsen reaching the South pole with polar bear images (because they are so cute)?
By Occam razor: ignorance is the best explanation. ;)
Maybe Game of Life simply doesn't produce patterns as interesting as Rule 30? With GoL you can only show one generation.
Maybe they were going for the randomness that rule 30 provides (you can build a PRNG from it) but Game of Life doesn't?
They're professionals like you. Give them some credit.
Imagine that you go to a Shakespeare festival but they only recite T. S. Eliot. When you are disappointed, they say:
"Look these are all poems. They are very similar on the surface, but Eliot somehow sounds better to the modern ear. Long live Shakespeare!"
They tried it out, realized it didn't look great, then looked for what most people who don't have a CS degree would consider similar enough and also looked nice.
This sort of reasonable compromise happens all the time. In the software industry, if you picked ideological purity over pragmatism you wouldn't be a great engineer.
You may have a point if this was a museum celebrating Conway, but it isn't.
And you may think it's trivial, but it's exactly how - step by step, creative decision by creative decision - we turn each other into idiots with little clue about how reality works. Something that was discussed at length just few hours ago:
See also: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheCoconutEffect.
I strongly second the quote that I once found on the Internet: "Promoting less than maximally accurate beliefs is an act of sabotage. Don’t do it to anyone unless you’d also slash their tires".
> "Promoting less than maximally accurate beliefs is an act of sabotage. Don’t do it to anyone unless you’d also slash their tires"
Regardless of whether the first sentence is accurate (and indeed it certainly seems accurate), I believe the prescription given in the second sentence is not entirely accurate.
Slashing someone's tires is absolutely/always illegal (property damage, or whatever the term is for causing it) ... whereas sabotaging someone's beliefs is illegal iff the "someone" is a court of law or government official, or if the belief-being-sabotaged is about a living person such that a falsehood constitutes slander.
As such, sabotage of beliefs is possible in some cases where tire-slashing is not.
They didn't; e.g. playing the lottery as an adult is both legal and insanely idiotic. (Don't misunderstand me; I do like it that the insanely idiotic are able to self-select themselves away from their money with such ease.)
But on the other hand, "legally can and causes more utility gain per unit time than any other course of action" ... does indeed imply "should".
(And unless you're really silly, "utility gain" simplifies to "monetary gain".)
Of course, I'm not trying to imply that sabotage-of-beliefs is that powerful an action; indeed, my ultimate conclusion is that neither tire-slashing nor sabotage-of-beliefs present a compelling benefit-per-cost.
Yeah, that's why I always turn down my friends when they ask if I want to go see a movie. Monetarily, it's nothing but a loss, and I would have to be "really silly" to value an entertaining experience.
I really do not understand the reasoning behind this statement.
Sabotage of the belief system and slashing tires are very different. Fundamentally different I would say.
Slashing tires leads to an outcome that becomes very quickly obvious to the victim and is easily repairable.
Sabotage of the belief system goes very likely unnoticed to a person and can last for hundreds generations and is very difficult to repair.
Sabotage of beliefs is not understood to be a crime.
If people understood how much damage it could cause then they perhaps would reconsider it.
Or if you're doing it for personal gain, in which case it may be fraud.
Also, in terms of real-world consequences, sabotaging someone's thinking can be very, very much worse than just breaking their car.
> Don't promote less than maximally accurate beliefs unless you hate someone so much you'd be willing to go and slash their tires.
Yet is it not conceivable to hate someone thoroughly, but not enough to be willing to sacrifice one's entire career/reputation/criminal-record by committing any kind of actual crime?
My initial quotation was this from the press release:
The architects said the aluminium design is derived from John Conway's Game of Life 'cellular automaton',
You can't protect this with some kind of "we all come from gogol's overcoat", mentality. If it is true then they should have put a Gogol image there! ;)
OOoh, disagree. What yields purity is the clash of a pure vision with the constraints of reality. You can't be really "pragmatic" until you've tried really hard to "do the right thing" and failed and looked for alternatives. If you don't even try, you're not being "pragmatic"; just lazy and boring.
What if they decided to go with Rule30 instead of GoL, precisely because they knew there'd be geeks out here that would be arguing about these things, infinitely, while a majority of people will just think its a great example of the kind of mathematical complexity that exists in the universe, either way you look at it?
People like "alternative facts" - both on the believer and the debater side, so give em' what they want for fun and profit? :) That is a fine point, but I simply do not like the value system behind it: to be ignorant or pretend to be ignorant because that's what people like
You were already given several times the same reasonable explanation. It looks like GoL, and if the architects had said "we used 'rule 30'", absolutely no one would have had a clue what they are talking about. By saying they were inspired by GoL, at least a few people will think 'I vaguely heard of that, it's cool'. It's called pedagogy. Sometimes, being 100% accurate is not helpful.
It is just my opinion - it is not hard science but art, so maybe no one can be right here:
you can just choose not to read my comments if you anticipate in advance that you will disagree ;)
edit: By the way they not said "inspired" by GoL but that they derived the pattern from it. I admit I'm not a native english speaker but I feel some difference... For you if it is the same, or it is fine "pedagogically" then good for you.
Ha ha. There's professional courtesy, but at the same time there are annoying truths (like rampant ignorance perhaps only barely above the general population, depending on the profession) we don't like to discuss in an unspoken agreement.
Honestly it just seems like a poorly communicated marketing blurb more than anything else. They wanted to say it's based on cellular automata because they're cool, and they can link the location to a guy somewhat famous even in the general population for something to do with automata (under the phrase GoL). An analogous situation might be some architecture using a Sierpinski pattern and having a blurb on how they derived it from fractals, and could relate the location to Mandelbrot.
You can build a PRNG in Game of Life, since you can build a Turing Machine.
The only possible exception we know of is quantum computers.
GoL is Turing complete. I guess that means there is a starting condition that converges to a rule30 cellular automaton.
edit: video of GoL emulated inside a turing machine in GoL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP5-iIeKXE8 (link replaced)
In other words, no "Wow Cambridge honored me and my amazing automata!", lots of "These patterns I've loved for years are on a building and that is really exciting."
For "A New Kind of Science", here is the index entry:
Conway, John H. (England/USA, 1937- )
and arithmetic recurrences, 1115
and Game of Life, 877, 880, 949
and iterated run-length encoding, 905
and non-periodic tilings, 943
in Preface, xiii
and recursive sequences, 907
and universality of Life, 1117
That is one damn insecure guy.
For a rule like Life, there are many possible configurations that must have been created by God or somebody with a bitmap editor (or somebody who thinks he's God and uses Mathematica as a bitmap editor, like Stephen Wolfram ;), because it would have been impossible for the Life rule to evolve into those states. For example, with the "Life" rule, no possible configuration of cells could ever evolve into all cells with the value "1".
For a rule that simply sets the cell value to zero, all configurations other than pure zeros are garden of eden states, and they all lead directly into a one step attractor of all zeros which always evolves back into itself, all zeros again and again (the shortest possible attractor loop that leads directly to itself).
There is a way of graphically visualizing that global rule state space, which gives insight into the behavior of the rule and the texture and complexity of its state space!
Andrew Wuensche and Mike Lesser published a gorgeous coffee table book entitled "The Global Dynamics of Cellular Automata" that plots out the possible "Garden of Eden" states and the "Basins of Attraction" they lead into of many different one-dimensional cellular automata like rule 30.
The beautiful color plates begin on page 79 in the free pdf file:
I've uploaded the money shots to imgur:
Those are not pictures of 1-d cellular automata rule cell states on a grid themselves, but they are actually graphs of the abstract global state space, showing merging and looping trajectories (but not branching since the rules are deterministic -- time flows from the garden of eden leaf tips around the perimeter into (then around) the basin of attractor loops in the center, merging like springs (GOE) into tributaries into rivers into the ocean (BOA)).
The rest of the book is an atlas of all possible 1-d rules of a particular rule numbering system (like rule 30, etc), and the last image is the legend.
He developed a technique of computing and plotting the topology network of all possible states a CA can get into -- tips are "garden of eden" states that no other states can lead to, and loops are "basins of attraction".
Here is the illustration of "rule 30" from page 144 (the legend explaining it is the last photo in the above album). [I am presuming it's using the same rule numbering system as Wolfram but I'm not sure -- EDIT: I visually checked the "space time pattern from a singleton seed" thumbnail against the illustration in the article, and yes it matches rule 30!]
"The Global Dynamics of Cellular Automata introduces a powerful new perspective for the study of discrete dynamical systems. After first looking at the unique trajectory of a system's future, an algoritm is presented that directly computes the multiple merging trajectories of the systems past. A given cellular automaton will "crystallize" state space into a set of basins of attraction that typically have a topology of trees rooted on attractor cycles. Portraits of these objects are made accessible through computer generated graphics. The "Atlas" presents a complete class of such objects, and is inteded , with the accompanying software, as an aid to navigation into the vast reaches of rule behaviour space. The book will appeal to students and researchers interested in cellular automata, complex systems, computational theory, artificial life, neural networks, and aspects of genetics."
"Basins of attraction in cellular automata", by Andrew Wuensche:
"To achieve the global perspective. I
devised a general method for running
CA backwards in time to compute a
state's predecessors with a direct reverse
algorithm. So the predecessors of predecessors, and so on, can be computed, revealing the complete subtree including the "leaves," states without predecessors, the
so-called “garden-of-Eden" states.
Trajectories must lead to attractors in a finite CA, so a basin of attraction is
composed of merging trajectories, trees, rooted on the states making up the attractor
cycle with a period of one or more. State-space is organized by the "physics" underlying the dynamic behavior into a number of these basins of attraction, making
up the basin of attraction field."
(Ok-ok, I know it is just a fun comment, but just to be serious anyway for the sake of truth:
you can think of how likely that this is a GoL pattern: take the set of all imaginable GoL patterns, at all timestep, and check how frequent is this subpattern then, compared to some combination of some common/well-know patterns, like these: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway%27s_Game_of_Life#Exampl...
Or maybe this is a joke at Wolfram's expense, attributing one of his own to Conway.
A topic that on the surface seems run of the mill (a train station)
Technical in its essence
Authored by someone notable (in this case really notable, which is not a requirement)
My comment on the other hand, not in the spirit of the discussions on HN but I like to celebrate good posts when I see them.
The Sumerian columns with geometric mosaics are pretty cool too.
Despite some controversies (are there enough ticket machines, enough toilets, enough train services, and so on...) Cambridge North is going to become a popular station.
EDIT: downvotes but I thought this was funny :)
I also remember reading elsewhere that e.g. speed of light (as a finite information speed limit) limit emerges straight out of casual networks generalized to be continuous instead of discrete.
But how could they fuck up Conway with Wolfram tilings? Wolfram went to St.John's in Oxford and then moved to California. No Cambridge there.
Conway's alma mater was in Cambridge and then he became professor in Princeton, USA.
Penrose has the same affiliations as Conway, the only problem is that Penrose stayed in the UK and went to Oxford.
There's a video of Roger Penrose talking about it , and a time-lapse of it being laid .
I did not know such patterns were also present in antique art. I guess one learns a cool thing every day !
Instead it's the same endless blabber about the damn automata we have heard for the last 20 years.
(For example, 512,1024,2048, etc...)
He didn't claim to have invented it, or that the building was designed in his honor. I think you have to be expecting arrogance to see it in this article.
On the other hand, he might very well be the actual discoverer, anyway.
There is a way out. I believe in you!
While the community as a whole has a collective memory, that does not mean that every participant has the sum of all that experience and knowledge, because individuals constantly join and leave the community.
This means that for some parts of the community, every new post (in this case by Wolfram) is one of "The first few times this came up" when it was "worth noting (and I confess to laughing at the same parodies that everyone else did)".
Because of the nature of Hacker News (the focus on individual stories (links)) the only way for new members of the community to be "nudged in the right direction", as it were, is to come upon one of these comment sections and either see the problem for themselves or see it called out (as here).
"[When there is a single Official Wolfram Ego Bitching subhthread in every thread discussing Wolfram], then everyone can enjoy complaining about Wolfram's ego there, without it taking over the rest of the discussion. (This would work better if HN offered a way to "collapse" subthreads.)"
And now we actually have collapsable subthreads!
* proceeds to collapse grandparent
dang's post attempts to do this. HN has poor tools for surfacing such actions and intentions (it has poor tools in a large number of ways, but the very tool paucity also creates, at times, some useful positive dynamics).
Sometimes you want low friction, sometimes you want high friction.
A wheel, particularly in the flanged steel-on-rail or rubber tyre-on-road varieties, is a device for offering exceptionally low friction and resistance in one dimension, and very high resistance in another. Among the results of such a dynamic is the property, literally, of keeping a vehicle on track.
I think HN's quirks of high- and low-affordance capabilties operate somewhat in this nature.
But for some reason, people expect his posts to be general commentaries about science, math or computing, like a Scientific American Blog post - perhaps it's due to his reputation as a 'genius', which makes people forget he is also a CEO.
The first time I tried to read "Surely You're Joking" as a kid I had to put it down -- the incessant "ME! ME! ME!" dripping from every page was a little too much.
I've since mellowed down and can read Feynman or Wolfram without any issues. I even enjoy that style now :-)
I still liked "Surely You're Joking" though. A lot, even though I've come to regard Feynman as somewhat flawed.
"I know Woflram has ego issues in his writings, therefore this perfectly neutral sentence must be in fact Wolfram congratulating himself!".
I got that he was saying how easy it was for anyone, not just him. Not bragging.
> selling his product
To be fair it wouldn't show a lot of confidence if he never used it
> writing his own name
It's the name of the language. What do you want him to say, "a certain language who's name I will not disclose"? :)
You can speak the truth and be informative while still maintaining your dignity and respecting other people's right to objectivity. He's not doing that. He's asking you to sacrifice your objectivity because it serves him. The self-aggrandizing tone he takes is an affront to the objective simplicity of truth -- that even if he wasn't here to do the things he does, they would still be doable. He writes as though this is not true.
He doesn't just say "Rule 30 is one of those rules that has an 'organic' feel to it." He says something like "This Rule 30 that I discovered, is what I call a 'class 4' rule -- one that has an organic feel." It's like he has a compulsive inability to separate plain facts from his own brand. He has to constantly remind you that he is the god who made these things possible.
"this being a casual blog.", I believe is how that sentence is supposed to end.