CA: Cellular Automata in Matlab

This repository contains generic Matlab source code supporting cellular automaton simulations in Matlab.To get started, download and unzip the file, launch Matlab, change to the directory where you put the repository the file, and type

  >> help ca

For an example application, the life subdirectory contains code for implementing Conway’s Game of Life on an initially empty grid. You can copy all the code into a single directory, or use Matlab’s path-adding capability to work from either directory. You can create and edit forms by left- and right-clicking, and then watch them move and interact.

I originally developed this software for a computational modeling course, to help students do the cellular automata projects (spread of fire and movement of ants) from the excellent Introduction to Computational Science textbook by Angela and George Shiflet. The students wrote the initialization and update functions, and I provided the generic code and display function. This approach allows students with little or no programming experience to use a powerful, industry-standard tool like Matlab to solve an interesting problem at an appropriate level of abstraction (one line of code per CA rule). Because each instruction operates on the entire grid at once, the approach is supports the recent move toward parallel thinking at the introductory level.

Please contact me with any questions or suggestions.