In the best known example of Cellular Automata – Conway’s Game of Life, each cell has a binary state – it is either **On** or **Off**.

However, it is possible to explore similar automata where the state of each cell can be any real number in a given range – **Continuous Cellular Automata**.

The video above shows such a CCA in grasshopper. Each cell has a height value, which interacts with the values of its neighbours according to a simple* equation. This is a way of generating 3-Dimensional forms even though the cells only use a 2-dimensional Moore neighbourhood.

You can download the grasshopper definition here:

CAheights2.ghx

I made this by taking a Game of Life definition which Baldino had already made and simply copy-pasting some code from one of my earlier processing sketches into the VB component (well, I had to change a couple of bits of syntax, but surprisingly little).

The processing sketch uses colours instead of heights to show the value of each cell, and is mouse reactive:

Click image for Live Interactive version + sourcecode

Its strange the way it varies between periods of calm and chaos, without ever completely settling down or degenerating to noise.

* though it took me a fair bit of trial and error to come up with this particular equation. Just like the different rulesets explored by Wolfram, little changes can give quite different results, and I ran through all sorts of odd glitchiness before finding one I liked.

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August 16, 2010 at 12:00 am

Amazing work on the blog – I am particularly interested in the cellular automata. However, the CAheights.ghx is giving me a 503 error when I try to load it – if you have another definition for the automata heightfield that you could share, this would be really helpful. Thanks.

November 19, 2010 at 8:19 am

hi daniel

CCA is really amazing. the definition doens’t work. can you share again pleaz?