The Cook Book

Recipe for the week of October 28 - November 3

Announcing WinCA 1.0

We are happy to announce that version 1.0 of WinCA, our Windows-based interactive platform for cellular automaton experimentation, is available for downloading. Those interested should get two files: winca.txt and winca_10.exe from the first link in the Kitchen Sink, or by anonymous ftp to psoup.math.wisc.edu or excite.math.wisc.edu. The file winca.txt contains basic info about system requirements and installation. Program documentation, together with information about the current version, future plans and CA resources, appears in the WinCA help file winca.hlp included with the software installation.

This week's recipe thumbnail is the WinCA 'About' screen, and this week's soup shows the program at startup. A level-set Life without Death experiment (flake.xpt) is displayed. Features evident include a Button Bar, Control Panel and Status Bar. This interface permits easy and efficient 256-color dynamic visualization of almost all of the cellular automaton rules that are featured here in the Kitchen. Our final 16-bit version of WinCA for Windows 3.x / 95 comes with more than a dozen pre-defined parameterized families of CA rules, each in its own .rul file. In addition, more than three dozen annotated experiments illustrate these rules as well as the main features of the interface.

In the present version, for demonstration purposes, several of our rules are optimized with assembler. This enables the fastest of our demos to update an array of more than 20,000 cells in excess of 60 times per second on a mid-range Pentium. Note that version 1.0 does not permit user-defined rules. Our ultimate goal is to provide hooks so users can develop their own .rul's as painlessly as possible and "plug" them into WinCA. In order to implement this feature optimally, we will need to port the code to 32-bit in order to take advantage of much simpler flat memory addressing. Meanwhile, for general purpose demonstrations and experimentation with many of the most basic and widely studied CA rules, we believe that WinCA 1.0 provides an unsurpassed combination of performance and flexibility.

Check it out!
Bob Fisch and David Griffeath
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