Maze of Life

The puzzles on this page and those that follow are based on the well known Game of Life algorithm invented by John Conway. This variation on standard Life was suggested to me by my father, James Gilbert, as an interesting basis for an interactive puzzle-maze. Ed Pegg (www.mathpuzzle.com) aptly christened the blue cell the intelligent cell. The basic idea is this; you have control over one cell, the blue cell. Your aim is to keep the blue cell alive and reach a predefined goal. At each moment in time the blue cell is permitted to move to any adjacent, empty cell, or may stay where it is. Traditional game-of-life rules apply, and if the blue cell dies it's game over.

Here first is the original Maze of Life puzzle-set (June 2000). The target here is for the blue cell to reach a nominated cell location, marked in red. Undo is provided, but to make things tricky is limited to one move only, so beware, you may get trapped and have to start over. Simple survival is relatively easy, just make sure you always pick a location that has either two or three live neighbours.

Sorry, this is a Java applet.

Controls
Click on Restart to load first puzzle or restart current puzzle.
Click on Previous/Next to switch between puzzles.
Click on Undo to undo last move (one move only).

Movement
Click on the grid to move.

Note that, during normal play, once a move (click) has been accepted the blue cell will either die immediately or life will progress one instant. This allows you to clearly see why the blue cell died.

Keys
n – next puzzle
p – previous puzzle
r – restart current puzzle
u – undo last move

An extra challenge suggested by Ed Pegg: "One Life maze I'm been particularly intrigued by is Maze #2. I've been going from the starting position, to the goal, back to the start, back to the goal. That's where I've died a number of times. I'm thinking this might make a great little contest... one point for each trip... what is the maximum number of points you can get?". Note that if you can complete a round trip and finish with the exact same cell-arrangement you started with then you have effectively proven that you must be able to loop indefinitely. Update Sept 2003: Berend Jan van der Zwaag successfully cracked this challenge! See solution.

If you enjoyed Maze of Life... read on, the following pages include many more challenges. I recommend you start with the Y-start challenge. Alternatively, if you would like to discover just how creative the blue-cell can be, jump to Riding the glider.


iLife pages: Maze of life V1 World domination Optimal sequences (new)
  The Y-start challenge Active oscillators Glider gun in 247 (new)
  Stable-state goals Riding the glider iLife play area
  Dense goals  Building a glider gun

This page is dedicated to my father on his 70th birthday (May 2000).
With thanks to Ed Pegg, Carl Hoff, Jacco Compier, Dr. William Paulsen & Berend Jan van der Zwaag.
applet & maze designs – © Andrea Gilbert 2000-2002