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Cellular Automata

  • By: Suzana Dragicevic
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Cellular automata (CA; singular: cellular automaton) are dynamic discrete systems that operate in space and time on a uniform and regular lattice of cells. These cells are driven by rules that describe interactions at the local level to produce patterns at the global level. Depending on the problem context, the cells can also be rectangular, triangular, or hexagonal.

Figure 1 Different cellular automata neighborhoods
Source: Author.

History

The mathematical description of CA was partially postulated by D'Arcy Thompson (1917), then further developed by Von Neumann (1966) in his work on self-reproducing systems. The work of Von Neumann was motivated by Alan Turing's groundbreaking developments in algorithms and digital computing as well as Stanislaw Ulam's work on the growth of crystals in the 1940s and 1950s. CA concepts were ...

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