Thursday, October 25, 2018

wator and recreational computing

I've implemented a version of A.K. Dewdney's Wa-Tor from Scientific American's "Computer Recreations" column - it's a simplistic Cellular Automata-kind of thing, a simulation of sharks eating fish on a donut-shaped world (generally mapped onto a simple grid) You can see my version here. Kind of hypnotic!

I was partially inspired to get back to this by my UI Book Club where we just finished Edward Tufte's "Envisioning Information". It reminded me of a Windows 3.1 Version I messed with in college... in particular, it had a population graph that's always stuck with me, something like this:
I can't think of many graphs with a time element where time isn't just slapped on the X-axis - it's kind of cool how you can follow "time" as it makes its curvy path. It turns out this basically a "phase diagram" corresponding to Lotka-Volterra equations, the math that predicts predator-prey relations.

"Computer Recreations" was a big influence on me as a kid. The whole concept of recreational computing, programming for fun, is something that's been lost a bit. The home computers then were slow and with almost no memory and generally primitive, but you had full access to the machine. For kids in the era, even if you just used the computer to play games, you entered a BASIC command to load the game, and you probably learned a smattering of BASIC in school, and learned that you could make these computers follow your instructions and make original stuff.

Anyway, I wrote it in P5, and the code could serve as an example of having 2 P5 apps communicate a bit, even though the whole thing is a bit quick-and-dirty.

No comments:

Post a Comment