The Game Of Life is a mathematical 'zero-player game' - the player can't intervene after the game has started. Technically, it's a type of cellular automaton, the brainchild of British mathematician John Conway, which became very popular in the 1970s after an article about this game was published by Martin Gardner in the Scientific American. The game originated as a solution of a problem presented by John von Neumann. The task was to create a hypothetical machine that could replicate itself. The Game Of Life or simply, Life, is a mathematical model of such a machine. It was named "Game Of Life" since the rules of the game are similar to life of an organism albeit over-simplified.
The game is also interesting from a theoretical point of view because it can be used to simulate a Universal Turing Machine. What is a Turing Machine? The Turing Machine is an abstract computational device which was first described by Alan Turing to investigate the limitations of what can be computed. Such a machine can compute anything that can be put in the form of an algorithm, with two assumptions - the amount of memory available is infinite and time taken for completion of the task is unimportant. A Universal Turing Machine is one which can simulate an arbitrary Turing Machine with an arbitrary input. Because of the above assumptions, the machine has no practical use.
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