Conway's Game of Life

Mathematics and Construction

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Book still in progress.
This is not the final version yet -- beta readers are in the process of reviewing and commenting. To join the beta readers' group, make comments on the dedicated forum thread.
About the Book

This book provides an introduction to Conway's Game of Life, the interesting mathematics behind it, and the methods used to construct many of its most interesting patterns. This book generally tries to avoid presenting patterns in isolation or as historical notes, but rather tries to guide the reader through the thought processes that went into creating them in the first place.

While we will follow the history of the Game of Life as we go through the book, we emphasize that this is not the primary goal of the book, but rather it is a by-product of the fact that most recently-discovered patterns build upon patterns and techniques that were developed earlier. Instead, the goal of this book is to demystify the Game of Life by breaking down the complex patterns that have been developed in it into bite-size chunks that can be understood individually.

Download the Book

Whether you are using it for self-study or a course, the textbook can be downloaded as a PDF file free of charge. We recommend that you view the PDF in a stand-alone PDF reader like Adobe Acrobat (which is also free), not your in-browser PDF viewer, so that you can click on pattern images to view their RLE encodings (which you can then copy and paste into Life software like Golly).

Book in PDF Format (91.11 Mb, Nov 14 2021)
Supplementary Files and Code

Pattern files for all patterns that are displayed as figures in the book are provided here. You can view and manipulate these patterns right in your web browser, or you can copy these code files into Game of Life software like Golly.