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Virtual Bumblebees

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Virtual Bumblebees

  1. 1. 1 Virtual Bumblebees James P. Howard, II MathFest—5 August 2015 Washington, DC
  2. 2. 2 Artificial life uses information concepts and computer modeling to study life in general, and terrestrial life in particular. It aims to explain particular vital phenomena, ranging from the origin of biochemical metabolisms to the coevolution of behavioral strategies, and also the abstract properties of life as such (“life as it could be”). Artificial Life The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences, (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1999), 37.
  3. 3. 3 Squares on a plane are colored variously either black or white. We arbitrarily identify one square as the "ant". The ant can travel in any of the four cardinal directions at each step it takes. The ant moves according to the rules below: • At a white square, turn 9oº right, flip the color of the square, move forward one unit • At a black square, turn 90º left, flip the color of the square, move forward one unit The Virtual Ant’s Rules Langton's ant. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 22, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langton%27s_ant.
  4. 4. 4 Langton Ant Demonstration
  5. 5. 5 Steven Levy and Artificial Life Steven Levy / VintageMarion Ettlinger / Steven Levy
  6. 6. 6 The vant itself was a V-shaped construct that moved in the direction of its point. If the lead cell moved into a blank square on the imaginary grid, the vant continued moving in that direction. If the square was blue, the vant turned right and changed the color of that cell to yellow. If the square was yellow, the vant turned left and changed the color of the square to blue. Levy's Description Steven Levy, Artificial Life: A Report from the Frontier Where Computers Meet Biology, Pantheon Books, 1992, 104.
  7. 7. 7 1. At a red dot, turn 90 degrees to the right, turn the dot blue, and move forward one cell; 2. At a blue dot, turn 90 degrees to left, turn the dot red, and move forward one cell; and 3. At an empty square, move forward one cell. Bumblebee Rules
  8. 8. 8 Vants reside in an environment that consists of uniformly spaced, fixed cells that are in one of two states (either blue or yellow in the following figures). A vant travels in a straight line in empty space. If it encounters a blue cell, it turns fight and leaves the cell colored yellow. If it encounters a yellow cell, it turns left and leaves the cell colored blue. The Langton Ant Christopher G. Langton, “Studying artificial life with cellular automata.” Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena, 22(1), 120-149.
  9. 9. 9 Chase’s Initial Vector
  10. 10. 10 Beatrix’s Initial Vector
  11. 11. 11 Bumblebee Explosion
  12. 12. 12 Langton Ant Simulator
  13. 13. 13 Applications • Eusocial behavior • Network traffic • Awful screensavers Next Steps • Extend to 3, 4, or n dimensions • Determine if the bees are turmites What’s Next

Editor's Notes

  • Artificial life has been used to model natural phenomenon
    The most well-known example is probably Conway's Life
    Also well known is the flocking dinosaur movements in the original Jurassic Park
  • Created in 1986 by Christopher Langton
    The rules provide for an orthogonal field
    Ants cannot be "born" through the rules, only move
  • This is recorded from Ross Scrivener's website
    I clicked in a few locations without planning
    Just wanted to get a sample and flavor of the ant's behavior
  • Book was published in the summer of 1993
    Found a copy at the Lane Public Library
    I had a new toy
  • Levy's description is very different from the explanation on Wikipedia
    The description includes three different cell states
    Different from every implementation of the vants I had seen
  • I started with Scrivener's implementation, one day
    Reimplemented the Levy version.
    I turned them yellow and called them bumblebees, instead
    These are rules, distilled
  • Going back to the literature
    This is the original explanation from Physica D
    This is what Levy described

    Now I have a mystery
  • This is Chase's initial vector
    Chase is my five year old
    He thinks this is a video game
  • Beatrix's vector is also cool
    She is 3
    She was upset my laptop did not have a touchscreen
  • This shows a local favorite, the bumblebee explosion
    The system is implemented such that a bee has a location on the field
    Multiple bees can occupy the same location
    The cells will flip as each bee is processed
    The bees travel together until they disperse to their own path's
  • This reimplements the "traditional" virtual ant
    Demonstrates the bees are a turning machine

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