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Reid Wins SIAM Dynamical Systems Competition

 

July 2005

Reid Dynamical Systems

Graduate student Samuel Reid recently won first place in the DSWeb Competition for Graduate Students sponsored by DSWeb, the SIAM Activity Group on Dynamical Systems. Entrants were encouraged to use innovative media to present a dynamical systems tutorial.

Mr. Reid's entry was titled "Cellular Automata in one dimension: A Simple Dynamical System Interactive Tutorial". Users solve puzzles as well as set up and run experiments through the course of the highly visual tutorial. From the abstract:

This Interactive Tutorial introduces Elementary Cellular Automata as Dynamical Systems. Cellular Automata are Dynamical Systems which are temporally and spatially discrete, and the update mechanism is spatially local.

Elementary Cellular Automata are 1-Dimensional, 2-Neighbor, 2-State Cellular Automata. These restrictions, while making the system easier to visualize, do not hinder the system's emergent behavior. On the contrary, Elementary Cellular Automata exhibit emergent behavior including fractals, complexity, chaos and embedded particles. In fact, it was recently proved that any computable function can be computed by an infinite Elementary Cellular Automaton.

In this tutorial, we study these Cellular Automata and depict their complex emergent behavior. We hope an exploration of this powerful dynamical system will confer insight into many forms of dynamical systems.

The Interactive Tutorial is parceled into four main sections:

  1. Introduction: The basic ideas of a cellular automata.

  2. Behavior Types: The four main classes of behavior.

  3. Emergence Fractals: sensitivity to initial conditions, particles, the "Edge of Chaos", dynamical parameters.

  4. The Explorer: A main application for exploring cellular automata.

In the Interactive Tutorial, participants set up and run experiments and solve puzzles designed to highlight and portray properties of this Dynamical System.

Mr. Reid was recognized at the SIAM Conference on Applications of Dynamical Systems held in Snowbird, Utah at the end of May. He was awarded $2000 for his first place finish. The contest description, other winners and all DSWeb Tutorials may be seen on the DSWeb's Dynamical Systems Tutorials site.

 
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Department of Computer Science
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University of Colorado Boulder
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