Fantastic patterns traced by programmed worms
Description & Rules
Scientific American reference
Mine vs. Gardners Notation
What is it?
WORMS is a computer recreation akin to the likes of John Conways LIFE or fractal patterns.
What is it not?
The term worms is currently used in the context of computer viruses and other destructive programs. The definition used in this site, however, much predates this negative connotation. It is no more harmful than Tic-Tac-Toe.
Where does it come from?
It first appeared in the November, 1973 issue of Scientific American as a topic of Martin Gardners regular Mathematical Games section.
, as it was also refered to. After refining the definition of the Worm Paths class by John Horton Conway it was studied in-depth with the aid of a computer program by Michael Beeler, also of M.I.T.
What does it do?
WORMS is an exploration of geometric figures formed by recursively applying a set of simple rules.
Whats the goal?
The goal is to find a set of rules which generates the largest pattern. So far, eligible patterns have been traced to millions of line segments with no conclusive proof that they will eventually stop. We still dont know what the largest pattern will ultimately be. Back in 1973 the record holder was thought to be one with a path length of
units. Since then I have found two larger patterns:
How difficult is it?
Its description is no more complicated than the rules for Conways LIFE. Yet it can present a challenge to both novice and advanced programmers. It should probably be among the repertoire of all who are interested in puzzles and games.
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because it wasnt on the Web until this March 22, 1999
This site has been resurrected. Some updates will be coming soon.