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by E. F. Codd

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132 pages3 hours

Cellular Automata presents the fundamental principles of homogeneous cellular systems. This book discusses the possibility of biochemical computers with self-reproducing capability.

Organized into eight chapters, this book begins with an overview of some theorems dealing with conditions under which universal computation and construction can be exhibited in cellular spaces. This text then presents a design for a machine embedded in a cellular space or a machine that can compute all computable functions and construct a replica of itself in any accessible and sufficiently large region of the space. Other chapters consider simulation of one cellular space by another. This book discusses as well the goal of exhibiting universal computer-constructor. The final chapter deals with the use of a digital computer for research in cellular automata.

This book is a valuable resource for computer designers and programmers who want a better understanding of the principles of homogeneous cellular systems. Automata theoreticians and biochemists will also find this book useful.

Publisher: Academic PressReleased: Jun 28, 2014ISBN: 9781483225173Format: book

AMERICA

There is a growing interest in large computing systems which operate in a highly parallel manner, in computing machines which can construct copies or variants of themselves, and in models for biological reproduction. Cellular automata provide a common basis for investigations in all these areas. The major pioneering work in cellular automata is that of von Neumann and is published elsewhere. In this book extensions of von Neumann’s work are presented in a self-contained way which assumes no prior knowledge of cellular automata.

The material in this book should be helpful to computer designers and programmers who want a better understanding of the principles of homogeneous cellular systems; to automata theoreticians who may be interested in taking this work to a new level of generality; and to biochemists interested in the possibility of biochemical computers with self-reproducing capability.

The treatment is partly mathematical and partly logical (in the computer design sense of the word). Both microprogramming and programming appear in a primitive form. Physical realizations of cellular automata are not discussed.

Some theorems are discussed which deal with conditions under which universal computation and construction can be exhibited in cellular spaces. A design is presented for a machine embedded in a cellular space—a machine which can compute all computable functions and construct a replica of itself in any quiescent, accessible, and sufficiently large region of the space. Simulation of one cellular space by another is also discussed. This is a problem of considerably greater difficulty than simulating a cellular space by means of a general purpose digital computer. Finally, the use of a digital computer for research in cellular automata is described.

The material in the first three chapters can be understood without any special aids, although the reader who is not mathematically oriented may wish to skip parts of **Chapter 3. However, to obtain a full understanding of Chapter 4, and to a lesser extent later chapters, the reader is advised to use a digital computer for which interactive access is available. A very simple program will permit the reader to observe for himself the behavioral consequences of the various transitions which make up the transition function of the 8-state cellular space described in that chapter. **

I wish to express my gratitude to Professor Arthur W. Burks of the University of Michigan for introducing me to von Neumann’s work in cellular automata; to Professors J. H. Holland, B. A. Galler, and N. R. Scott of the same university for their keen interest in this work, to Dr. Stephen Hedetneimi and Mr. Richard Laing for technical assistance (especially checking); to Mrs. Ann Jacobs for editorial assistance; to Mrs. M. Elizabeth Brandt for drawing the figures; to Professor Ward Edwards for permission to make on-line use of a general-purpose digital computer which is entrusted to his care in connection with Air Force project AF19(628)-2823. The author is indebted to the IBM Corporation for providing the principal support for this work and to the National Institutes of Health (Grant No. GM-12236-01) for providing additional assistance.

This research was conducted in 1964–1965 while the author was participating in the activities of the Logic of Computers Group at the University of Michigan. Lectures on this work were delivered in 1966 at the University of Michigan, Syracuse University, and Uppsala University in Sweden.

*San Jose, California *

*July 1968 *

**E.F. CODD **

**Chapter 1 **

**Introduction **

This chapter provides an overview on the subject of cellular automata that deals with large collections of interconnected finite automata, each finite automaton being thought of as a cell. The study of cellular automata proves to be useful in biochemical research by providing conditions and properties that aids in the search for macromolecules or microorganisms exploitable in biochemical computers. The present computer design is aimed at homogeneity of components to facilitate mass production, and at incrementable power to satisfy a great variety of rapidly changing needs. Configurations with computing ability can be interpreted as automata embedded in the cellular space. An 8-state, 5-neighbor space was discovered capable of supporting not only the computation and construction behavior sought by von Neumann. A self-reproducing, programmable computer was designed to exhibit these behaviors. The principles of design, the components, layout, and metalanguages in which the computer is defined are all in sharp contrast to von Neumann’s.

The subject of cellular automata deals with large collections (usually infinite in order to avoid boundary problems) of interconnected finite automata, each finite automaton being thought of as a cell. The kinds of things investigated include conditions under which it is possible to exhibit

1. The computation of all computable functions.

2. The construction of automata by automata, the offspring being at least as powerful (in some well-defined sense) as the parent.

What relevance do these studies have for the development of computers in the future?

Much of our present computer design is aimed at homogeneity of components to facilitate mass production, and at incrementable power to satisfy a great variety of rapidly changing needs. Two levels at which these objectives are apparent are the circuit level and the processing unit level. The user who wishes to boost the internal computing power of his system usually replaces the whole system or a major processing unit. For a small (but increasing) number of system types, he has the option of adding a processing unit. In any event, there is very little choice as to the quality or quantity of the increment in power. Moreover, the user has virtually no means of reorganizing the additional components in a problem-dependent way so as to obtain better performance.

If an economical realization can be found, cellular automata provide the capability of extending the computing power of a system in small or large increments and of reorganizing these increments to suit various special needs.

The study of cellular automata may also prove useful in biochemical research by providing conditions and properties which will aid in the search for macromolecules or microorganisms exploitable in biochemical

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