Monthly Archives: December 2008

Rule 30 – Cellular Automata in Nature and Science

Regel 30 – om cellulära automater i naturen och vetenskapen

The pattern on the seashell Conus Textile is similar to the output of a cellular automaton

Cellular automata are a basic computational model from theoretical computer science that model the behaviour of many natural processes, such as the pattern on the seashell Conus Textile. They are a beautiful and very accessible example where apparent complexity emerges from very simple rules.

Cellular automata were popularised in Stephen Wolfram’s problematic book A New Kind of Science and have inspired several modern artists. Norwegian artist
Kristoffer Myskja’s contribution to the biannual exhibition Electrohype of computer based art in Malmö is a mechanical representation of an automaton called Rule 30 in wood, paper, and metal. I take perverse pleasure from seeing it in action!

My talk starts with a description of Myskja’s piece and becomes a friendly introduction to computability theory.

  • 10 december 2008. “Electrohype 2008” Fifth Biennial for Computer Based Art, Malmö Konsthall. Del av föreläsningsserien “Summen är större än helheten.”