An Early Exploration of the Computational Universe

Brian Silverman

Playful Invention Company; MIT Media Lab

In the early 1980s I became fascinated with John Conway’s Game of Life. I had read that Conway had created the game to be able to demonstrate that computational universality could be shown in a system with simple rules. He succeeded but the nature of the demonstration was a description of what needed to be done, not actual initial conditions. This was because the “computer” he wanted to build was so large that it would vastly outstrip the resources of practical computers of the time. I wanted to see some actual computation happening so I started exploring similar rules looking for a rule that would be more friendly to the notion. One of the results was the WireWorld rule that allows logic gates to be built quite directly. In this talk I will retrace the path I took in this early exploration of the computational universe reinterpreting it from an NKS perspective.

Created by Mathematica  (May 18, 2006)