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Emergence of Self-Replicating Structures in a Cellular Automata Space

Hui-Hsien Chou and James A. Reggia. Physica D 110:252–276, 1997.

Past cellular automata models of self-replication have always been initialized with an original copy of the structure that will replicate, and have been based on a transition function that only works for a single, specific structure. This article demonstrates for the first time that it is possible to create cellular automata models in which a self-replicating structure emerges from an initial state having a random density and distribution of individual components. These emergent self-replicating structures employ a fairly general rule set that can support the replication of structures of different sizes and their growth from smaller to larger ones. This rule set also allows random interactions of self-replicating structures with each other and with other structures within the cellular automata space. Systematic simulations show that emergence and growth of replicants occurs often and is essentially independent of the cellular space size, initial random pattern of components, and initial density of components, over a broad range of these parameters. The number of replicants and the total number of components they incorporate generally approach quasi-stable values with time.

Keywords: self-replication, self-organization, cellular automata.