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CAPOW: Continuous Valued Cellular Automata.

An art and research project by Rudy Rucker and friends.

Although the program illustrates scientific notions, the real purpose of it is for play. You create and watch gnarly edge-of-chaos lava-lamp-like realtime tweakable light-shows, based on 1D and 2D continuous valued celluar automata modelled on linear and nonlinear wave equations, on reaction-diffusion rules, and on user programmable rules.

The project's start was funded by Electric Power Research Institute EPRI. From 1994-1998, Rudy Rucker and his Computer Science students at San Jose State University devloped Capow, a flexible and easily programmable Windows application for simulating and analyzing one-dimensional and two-dimensional cellular automata or CAs. The initially targeted purpose was to produce CA visualizations of electricital wave forms and of city or state-wide power outages. In time, the project became a general investigation of 2D continuous-valued CAs---and an ever-changing source of fun. You can get an idea of the scope of the program by viewing the Capow help file.

Rucker revised Capow for use in his 2005 book, The Lifebox, the Seashell and the Soul, republished in 2016, and now readable online. Rucker also used CAPOW to make the page borders for his online science-fiction magazine Flurb.


"Continuous-Valued Cellular Automata for Non-Linear Wave Equations," by Daniel Ostrov and Rudy Rucker, Complex Systems 10, published Fall 97.
This paper explains the mathematics of why the CAPOW software can be used to simulate such physical phenomena as heat, wave motion, oscillation, and non-linear waves. The paper also discusses how a famous early computer experiment by Enrico Fermi and Stanislaw Ulam can be replicated using CAPOW.

"Continuous-Valued Cellular Automata in Two Dimensions" , by Rudy Rucker.
A paper based on a talk given at the "Constructive CA" workshop at the Santa Fe Institute, November 16, 1998. This paper describes some of the new CA rules added for Release 6.3 of CAPOW. The new rules include two-dimensional reaction-diffusion rules, also known as activator-inhibitor rules. This paper appeared in New Constructions in Cellular Automata (Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity Proceedings), edited by David Griffeath and Cristopher Moore , Oxford University Press 2003.

A History of Cellular Automata From Rudy Rucker's manual for the downloadable Cellab or CA Lab program for 2D digital CA.

Features of Capow

Student Participants

(leaders in green)
Spring Alan Borecky 
Andrew Chu 
Howard Lin 
Charles Miller
David Kent 
Juyoung Lee 
Tuyen Ly 
Ping-Chak Wong 
Darrel Cherry 
John Briere 
Bang Nguyen 
Thai Truong 
Juliekara Techasaratoole 
Rajaneekara Techasaratoole 
Michael Ling 
Andrew Forster 
Loc Ho 
Lorrie Tanabe
Fall Juyoung Lee 
Tuyen Ly 
Bob Westergaard
Jerry Chang 
Ning Tian
Chi Pan Lao 
Otto Leung 
Darin Levy 
James Kroutch 
Siu Ming Tong
Andrew Forster 
Michael Ling 
Rong Liu 
Ted Colbert

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