I am excited to be announcing that Steven Lee-Kramer and I have created an app that we hope will help teach people about mathematical modeling in a fun and interactive way. John Conway’s Game of Life is a simple cellular automaton where each cell is governed by four rules. Three of these rules are for how a cell can die and the fourth is how a cell is born. There are many apps that allow you to play the game of life, but the app that we have created allows for far, far more.
The release of this app will coincide with the Integrated Mathematical Oncology (IMO) workshop 6 focusing on treating therapy resistant cancers (Link for the workshop), hosted by Moffitt Cancer Center and supported by the National Cancer Institute. This workshop is a part of IMO’s continued effort to provide outreach to teach the importance of applied mathematics within our society, in particular the treatment, diagnosis, and prognosis of all types of cancer. This workshop brings together computer scientists, mathematicians, bioinformaticians, experimentalists, clinicians, and other researchers across all disciplines to focus on therapy resistant cancers.
As mentioned already, this game is based upon John Conway’s Game of Life rules (4 in total).
For a cell that is alive:
- A cell with 1 or no neighbors dies (Death by loneliness).
- A cell with 4 or more neighbors dies (Death by overcrowding).
- Each cell with two or three neighbors survives
For an empty space:
- An empty space with three neighbors becomes alive.
Our version of the game consists of a playground mode and two game modes.
Playground mode allows unlimited spawns (cells that can be placed on the grid) and unlimited generations. You are able to select many preset patterns, create a random pattern, or start with a blank grid. You have the freedom to define your own rules for GoL which changes everything about how the cells behave. In addition, you can also choose to use a wrap around or not (where a cell can go off one side and come back on another) and pick the color that best suites you.
Creation mode starts with 100 spawns, place them how you see fit. You have 500 generations to get as high a score as possible. The score is based on a combination of the number of cells that are alive and the change in population size between generations. A bonus is also awarded. Various moves award more spawns to use.
Survival mode tests your ability to survive with the introduction of different cell types. Red cell types are viral cells that switch any touching cell into another viral cell, as if through infection. These stay in place as you play, you can remove them, but it will cost you. Even as you remove them, new ones will randomly appear. The pink cells are stem cells, these are hidden cells that appear when you place your cells. Stem cells will keep your cells alive that are around them for as long as they are alive. Your score is the number of generations that you are able to survive. The game ends when you have 10 generations of no change or a negative change in population size.
This game serves as both a learning opportunity and entertainment. We hope you enjoy!
Release Date set for Sunday, November 6th 2016 at 12:00pm EST
Download it here on the App Store