Cellular Automata and the Edge of Chaos

Here are a few places you can go to read more about cellular automata and the idea that complex, interesting things happen on the edge of chaos, on the boundary between boring order and overwhelming disorder.

Steven Levy, Artificial Life. Pantheon Books, 1992. An exciting, interesting book, written for a general audience. Read it. You'll find cellular automata, the edge of choas, emergence, and lots more.

M. Mitchell Waldrop, Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos. Simon and Schuster, 1992. Another well-written book for a general audience, concentrating on the Santa Fe Institute. The edge of chaos is a central idea.

Stuart Kauffman, At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Self-organization and Complexity. Oxford University Press, 1995. Kaufmann explains his ideas about how various forms of complexity, including life itself, can arise from simple rules. The "Edge Of Chaos" idea plays a large role in his thinking.

Christopher Langton, "Computation at the Edge of Chaos: Phase Transitions and Emergent Computation." In Emergent Computation, edited by Stephanie Forest. The MIT Press, 1991. Pages 12-37. A technical paper in which Langton explains his investigation of one-dimensional cellular automata and discusses his "lambda" parameter.

Christopher Langton, editor, Artificial Life. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Reading, 1989. The procedings of the first artificial life workshop, held in 1987 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Technical papers. Includes an introductory survey by Langton of the field of artificial life.

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David J. Eck
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva, NY 14456