I’ve spent a reasonable amount of the past few weeks thinking about how SpiNNaker can allow us to explore weird programming models that are infeasible on a conventional computer.  After devising a few general test cases, I realised that they weren’t all that general and can be represented in 2D grid space.  So I started writing a really basic program, Simple Grid, to give me a sandbox to play in.

Simple Grid running Conway’s Game of Life as a pluggable grid model.

I was planning to have some kind of directed random walk running in grid world but a colleague of mine made the suggestion of the Game of Life!  It’s a fairly famous cellular automaton that can lead to some truly awesome patterns emerging from very simple seeds.  For example, the image above started out as an F-pentomino.

Plugin selector dialog allows users to choose the behaviours to run in the main grid window.

Simple Grid uses Qt’s plugin framework to allow any problem model to be connected up to the grid renderer.  I’d like to evolve this program from a toy into something more useful over the next few weeks.  Cellular automata are seriously cool; I find it amazing how a simple set of rules can lead to such complex patterns.  Hopefully I’ll have some cool things to share soon!

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