What is Mirek's Cellebration (MCell)?

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What is MCell

Mirek's Cellebration (MCell) is a 32-bit Windows program whose main purpose is exploring existing and creating new rules and patterns of 1-D and 2-D Cellular Automata. Current version (4.00 Beta) supports 14 different Cellular Automata families: Life, Generations, Weighted Life, Vote for Life, Rules tables, Cyclic CA, 1-D totalistic CA, 1-D binary CA, General binary, Neumann binary, Larger than Life, Margolus, User DLLs, and Special rules. MCell supports different neighborhoods (Moore 8 and 9, von Neumann 4 and 5, Margolus, Hexagonal, neighborhood ranges, properties). Each family contains many built-in rules, for example well-known Conway's Life, HighLife, Day & Night, Long life, Diamoeba, Fredkin, Vote 4/5, Brian's Brain, Star Wars, RainZha, Swirl, HGlass, Midges, Sticks, Career, Venus, WireWorld, and many more. Many rules were never seen in any other software yet - they were discovered by the author (and his family) and MCell users. All rules are illustrated with carefully designed patterns.

MCell handles all popular formats of Cellular Automata patterns (Life 1.05, Life 1.06, RLE, dbLife, ProLife, XLife, MCLife, MCell and variations of the above), both from UNIX and DOS formats, what makes it a perfect tool for viewing large collections of Cellular Automata patterns available on the Internet.

MCell is open for extensions and plugins. Programmers can add new rules programming them as external DLLs. Automation interface allows writing plugins that offer another user interface, automate frequently repeated tasks, control the program, perform analysis, drive demos, etc. Automation interface offers unlimited possibilities.

MCell is free for non-commercial use. It's written in Borland Delphi 5.0.

 

History of MCell

MCLife (Mirek's Colorful Life) was born on 8th of January, 1999, as a result of one long evening (OK, also a part of the night). The original name was MLife, as I didn't think about colors then. I didn't think then about hundreds of features available in the today's version.

I read about Life for the first time in 1980, in a very interesting Polish scientific periodical "Problemy". For at least 1 month Life occupied my mind then. I used many chequered notebooks for tracing the destiny of small patterns. Do You also remember those times? Because none of my friends shared my new hobby, Life was quickly forgotten (a note to younger readers: Internet was not available in those times).

Nearly 20 (!) years later, on 1998/1999 New Year's Eve I was watching the fireworks, and suddenly I recalled Life! Yes, I thought. Let's see if this can interest me again. So one week later I sat down and started thinking: how was it? Were they 2, 3,or 4 neighbours necessary to start a new birth? I remembered the glider well and one hour later I was sure: it must be 23/3. I took the Delphi compiler I always wanted to master and started programming:

That was all I thought is necessary to play with Life. I was proud and happy: "I don't need to waste paper and pencils anymore!" And I played with patterns each evening.

Then I did a mistake. I typed "Life, cell, grid" in Altavista to check if anybody else remembers Life. And I've found the LifeX program. Wow! What perfect ideas! Saving patters! ASCII export! What? Rules? Isn't "23/3" the only possibility?

One week later I had several different programs downloaded and realized that Life is not limited to what I've programmed in my 1st version. Those programs could do really a lot. I even thought it makes no sense to write one more. But... all those programs had so strange user interfaces. I would have had much more fun if I programmed what they could do, but with another interface. It can't be much work... And it has started.

In two weeks I was proud again. One week more and I could load most patterns from popular libraries. But then I've found the CAV program by Jean-Philippe Rennard. Hey, what's this? Cellular Automata? Colors? States? History? Vote? It can't be that my program does not handle it. And soon it could. I renamed it to MCLife (Mirek' Colorful Life). I could again sit with my daughters and play with rules and patterns. On one evening we have found the "Star Wars" rule, the most interesting rule we've seen so far.

The next milestone was the Fast Java Applet by Alan Hensel and Life32 by Johan Bontes. Alan showed me how small is my universe and how fast Life can be. Johan showed me that not only I like nice user interfaces. So I had much work again. In the middle of April 1999 I said, "it's enough for now". Alan and Johan's programs are faster, but I have other advantages. It's time to show the program to others, let's see what they think about it.

And, what do You think about it?

April, 1999

 

Selected MCell features

MCell screen (5816 bytes)

 


Webmaster: Mirek Wójtowicz
envelope info@mirekw.com,
envelope mirwoj@life.pl
globe http://www.mirekw.com


MCell mirrors:
globe USA  http://psoup.math.wisc.edu/mcell/
globe Europe  http://www.mirwoj.opus.chelm.pl

Last update: 15 Sep 2001