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A cellular automaton is a model used in computer science and mathematics. The idea is to model a dynamic system by using a number of cells. Each cell has one of several possible states. With each "turn" or iteration the state of the current cell is determined by two things: its current state, and the states of the neighbouring cells.
A very famous example of a cellular automata is Conway's Game of Life. Stanislaw Ulam and John von Neumann first described cellular automata in the 1940s. Conway's Game of Life was first shown in the 1970s.
Some biological processes occur—or can be simulated—by cellular automata.
The patterns of certain seashells are generated by natural cellular automata. Examples can be seen in the genera Conus and Cymbiola. The pigment cells are in a narrow band along the shell's lip. Each cell secretes pigments according to the activating and inhibiting activity of its neighbor pigment cells, obeying a natural version of a mathematical rule. The cell band leaves the colored pattern on the shell as it grows slowly. For example, the widespread species Conus textile bears a pattern resembling Wolfram's rule 30 cellular automaton.
- Coombs, Stephen (February 15, 2009), The Geometry and Pigmentation of Seashells (PDF), pp. 3–4, retrieved September 2, 2012
- Peak, West; Messinger, Mott (2004). "Evidence for complex, collective dynamics and emergent, distributed computation in plants". Proceedings of the National Institute of Science of the USA. 101 (4): 918–922. Bibcode:2004PNAS..101..918P. doi:10.1073/pnas.0307811100. PMC 327117. PMID 14732685.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2013-05-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Ilachinsky 2001, p. 275 harvnb error: no target: ilachinski (help)
- Yves Bouligand (1986). Disordered Systems and Biological Organization. pp. 374–375.