It is currently Mon Apr 12, 2021 6:05 pm

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 17 posts ] 
Author Message
Offline
 Post subject: Conway's Game of Life
Post #1 Posted: Sat Mar 28, 2020 6:05 am 
Lives in gote

Posts: 441
Liked others: 5
Was liked: 187
Rank: BGA 3 dan
I believe I have in my possession the go board on which, in 1968 we believe, John Conway invented his Game of Life, a well-known a cellular automaton. See Wikipedia.[1]

https://twitter.com/CharlesMatthe12/sta ... 5203291140 for an image of the board.

This forum seemed a better place to discuss the provenance. At one point, probably in the 1980s, I repossessed from the common room of the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics (DPMMS) the old go board that was left around there. I remember mentioning to Conway I was doing that - it does belong to the Cambridge University Go Society, with CUGS marked on the back - so it was presumably before 1986 when he left DPMMS (to which I then belonged).

It has odd markings: points of the compass suggesting you look at it landscape rather than portrait (ugh). I think these identify it. The reserve equipment of CUGS, with me for many years, contains three more of these thin old boards marked "CUGS", and one more that says "Reading Go Club".

I believe, and would appreciate confirmation, that in 1968 these boards would have been used in the UK, by clubs such as Reading and Cambridge.

It may well also be associated with the early history of Phutball (see Wikipedia [2]). Offers from museums?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway%27s_Game_of_Life
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phutball


This post by Charles Matthews was liked by 3 people: Bonobo, Uberdude, xela
Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #2 Posted: Sat Mar 28, 2020 4:58 pm 
Lives in gote

Posts: 430
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Liked others: 173
Was liked: 224
Rank: Australian 2 dan
GD Posts: 200
What an interesting find!

In the mid '90s, the DPMMS common room was on the top floor of a fairly run-down building in Mill Lane. They'd long since stopped playing go, and backgammon was the dominant sport.

Are we talking about the same room, or had they moved since 1980?

Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #3 Posted: Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:13 pm 
Lives in gote

Posts: 441
Liked others: 5
Was liked: 187
Rank: BGA 3 dan
xela wrote:

In the mid '90s, the DPMMS common room was on the top floor of a fairly run-down building in Mill Lane. They'd long since stopped playing go, and backgammon was the dominant sport.

Are we talking about the same room, or had they moved since 1980?


Certainly: before the new department in west Cambridge. At one point I did actually play go at teatime there with Alex Selby; but as you say, go was never endemic in DPMMS in the way backgammon was.

It may have been earlier when I repossessed the board on behalf of the go club: could have been in the later 1970s when I was an official.

Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #4 Posted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:00 am 
Dies in gote

Posts: 54
Liked others: 6
Was liked: 52
Rank: now 1kyu-ish
Charles - I was a member of the Cambridge University Go Society from October 1966 to June 1969. I got a grant from the University to buy some boards in my first year - it was for £25. In those days you could buy eight pints of beer for £1, so it was actually quite generous. I can't remember what boards we bought though. Having thought about it I can only think of two sources then, MitsuKiku in London or direct from Japan. A folding Japanese board with thin glass stones direct from Japan was $9 including sea-mail shipping. In January 1967 £1 was $2.4

It is possible that there was another source and that is what your board came from - I am guessing that Jon Diamond and I would have gone for boards that we could get quickly, rather than wait 3 months to arrive from Japan.

I have to say that I thought the Go Society was CUGOS rather than CUGS - but it's too long ago now to be sure.

Best Wishes - John

Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #5 Posted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 6:08 am 
Lives in gote

Posts: 441
Liked others: 5
Was liked: 187
Rank: BGA 3 dan
John Tilley wrote:
Having thought about it I can only think of two sources then, MitsuKiku in London or direct from Japan. A folding Japanese board with thin glass stones direct from Japan was $9 including sea-mail shipping. In January 1967 £1 was $2.4

It is possible that there was another source and that is what your board came from - I am guessing that Jon Diamond and I would have gone for boards that we could get quickly, rather than wait 3 months to arrive from Japan.


Hello again. Indeed, and I suspect these were of local make, not Japanese.

John Tilley wrote:
I have to say that I thought the Go Society was CUGOS rather than CUGS - but it's too long ago now to be sure.


I always preferred CUGS: sorry. Anyway the marking on the back doesn't have to be contemporary with the purchase of the boards. It's the sort of precaution you'd take when bringing equipment to a tournament. And the fact that they are light, non-folding also suggests a batch made so a tournament can be run.

Possibly the old BGJ has some clue. And could shoot down my theory.

Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #6 Posted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 3:08 pm 
Lives in gote

Posts: 478
Liked others: 1
Was liked: 124
Rank: 13k
Diversionary post:

David Brin’s 1993 science fiction story “Glory Season” was my introduction to the Game of Life and some Of its variations. Back then, I found a Macintosh program — that I believe ran in Ye Olde HyperCard — that could be set up from a menu of objects and then allowed to run for a predetermined number of generations. The idea, IIRC, was to end up with a predictable monochromatic image of, say, a tree or smiley face.
UPDATE:
I just climbed back out of the rabbit hole Mr Matthews’ post sent me down, an hour or so of google deadends and epiphanies. I could find no reference to an ancient HyerCard stack for Life but I found several hooks to early applications for Macs back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Plenty of fun resources to explore and some apps to download for many platforms and you can visit web-based Life interfaces.

http://www.radicaleye.com/lifepage/

http://golly.sourceforge.net/

https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questio ... ays-game-o

https://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/26608/my-game-of-life

_________________
David Bogie, Boise ID
I play go, I ride a recumbent, of course I use Macintosh.

Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #7 Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2020 3:41 am 
Dies with sente

Posts: 101
Liked others: 8
Was liked: 18
It looks like something we did have at the time.

I confess I can't remember whether they were a local acquisition or whether we purchased them from Japan.

The quality suggests local, but I can't recall who might have got them produced. Maybe Francis Roads, Tony Atkins or Toby Manning knows?

Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #8 Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:57 am 
Dies with sente

Posts: 101
Liked others: 8
Was liked: 18
Well, some research in the BGJ suggests that this board may be one of the ones for sale in Spring 1969: thin plywood board and good plastic stones from the BGA cost 36/-

The December 1969 issue implies they were from Japan, so I guess the Nihon Kiin.

Jon

Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #9 Posted: Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:50 am 
Lives in gote

Posts: 441
Liked others: 5
Was liked: 187
Rank: BGA 3 dan
mumps wrote:
Well, some research in the BGJ suggests that this board may be one of the ones for sale in Spring 1969: thin plywood board and good plastic stones from the BGA cost 36/-

The December 1969 issue implies they were from Japan, so I guess the Nihon Kiin.

Jon


Excellent! Just in time to back up my theory, I would say. Thanks Jon.

Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #10 Posted: Sat Apr 11, 2020 6:05 pm 
Oza
User avatar

Posts: 2217
Location: Germany
Liked others: 8216
Was liked: 918
Rank: OGS DDK again
Universal go server handle: trohde
Apropos Conway … you might appreciate this article:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/john-con ... -20150828/

Quote:
A Life in Games
John Horton Conway claims to have never worked a day in his life. This adaptation from the biography Genius at Play shows how serious advances such as the surreal numbers can spring out of fun and games.
[…]
Conway’s contributions to the mathematical canon include innumerable games. He is perhaps most famous for inventing the Game of Life in the late 1960s. The Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner called it “Conway’s most famous brainchild.” This is not Life the family board game, but Life the cellular automaton. A cellular automaton is a little machine with groups of cells that evolve from iteration to iteration in discrete rather than continuous time — in seconds, say, each tick of the clock advances the next iteration, and over time, behaving a bit like a transformer or a shape-shifter, the cells evolve into something, anything, everything else. Life is played on a grid, like tic-tac-toe, where its proliferating cells resemble skittering microorganisms viewed under a microscope.
[…]
Long read, nice read, and not only about the Game of Life.

_________________
“The only difference between me and a madman is that I’m not mad.” — Salvador Dali ★ Play a slooooow correspondence game with me on OGS? :)

Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #11 Posted: Sat Apr 11, 2020 10:11 pm 
Lives in gote

Posts: 441
Liked others: 5
Was liked: 187
Rank: BGA 3 dan
The article is mostly gossip, familiar to me from my time in DPMMS. The Cambridge Go Society was founded in 1965. Conway used to read the works of Euler, and there is some of Euler's facility in his approach. He was a doctoral student of Harold Davenport, and started off on a quantitative problem in the Hardy-Littlewood circle method.

As far as go is concerned, the way the board position breaks up into separate "games" in the endgame was the major input into Conway's idea of disjunctive games: which led to ONAG and then Winning Ways. I don't believe he played much go at all. Games were there to be studied, particularly for their hidden secrets.


This post by Charles Matthews was liked by: Bonobo
Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #12 Posted: Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:50 am 
Gosei

Posts: 1352
Location: Finland
Liked others: 49
Was liked: 129
Rank: FGA 7k GoR 1297
https://www.golem.de/news/covid-19-math ... 47842.html

_________________
Offending ad removed


This post by tj86430 was liked by: Bonobo
Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #13 Posted: Sun Apr 12, 2020 10:43 am 
Oza
User avatar

Posts: 2217
Location: Germany
Liked others: 8216
Was liked: 918
Rank: OGS DDK again
Universal go server handle: trohde
tj86430 wrote:
https://www.golem.de/news/covid-19-mathematiker-john-conway-ist-gestorben-2004-147842.html
Oh damn, yet another CoViD-19 victim :cry:

_________________
“The only difference between me and a madman is that I’m not mad.” — Salvador Dali ★ Play a slooooow correspondence game with me on OGS? :)


This post by Bonobo was liked by: Joaz Banbeck
Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #14 Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2020 4:50 am 
Lives in gote

Posts: 441
Liked others: 5
Was liked: 187
Rank: BGA 3 dan
A prolific guy, who cared about a range of topics quite different from those that typically concern professional mathematicians.


This post by Charles Matthews was liked by: Bonobo
Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #15 Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2020 1:21 pm 
Judan

Posts: 6676
Location: Cambridge, UK
Liked others: 432
Was liked: 3662
Rank: UK 4 dan
KGS: Uberdude 4d
OGS: Uberdude 7d
A lecture from Conway on surreal numbers with an intro on how watching people playing Go in the maths department inspired him. He mentions the British champion bringing a board along, presumably you Jon?



This post by Uberdude was liked by 2 people: justtysen, zermelo
Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #16 Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2020 6:11 am 
Dies with sente

Posts: 101
Liked others: 8
Was liked: 18
Uberdude wrote:
A lecture from Conway on surreal numbers with an intro on how watching people playing Go in the maths department inspired him. He mentions the British champion bringing a board along, presumably you Jon?



Yes, it was me - playing Tony Goddard at the time I believe, but that's less certain.

Top
 Profile  
 
Offline
 Post subject: Re: Conway's Game of Life
Post #17 Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2020 6:23 am 
Dies with sente

Posts: 101
Liked others: 8
Was liked: 18
mumps wrote:

Yes, it was me - playing Tony Goddard at the time I believe, but that's less certain.


Hmm, listening to the lecture he talks about observing a research student in the Maths Department with a Go board, which wasn't me as I was only an undergraduate at Cambridge, but could have been Tony. So maybe there's a slight inaccuracy in his memory...

Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 17 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group