I’m Going to MathFest…

This August, I will be speaking about my Virtual Bumblebees. Here’s the abstract:

Based on Langton’s Ant, this talk briefly describes a simple simulation environment for quasisocial behavior. The world is a sparse rectangular grid of cells. Each cell may be empty, have a red dot, or a blue dot. Superimposed over the rectangular grid are one or more virtual bumblebees represented as yellow dots. The virtual bumblebee moves through the world by taking a single step in one of four cardinal directions placing it into an adjacent cell. There are three rules for deciding the behavior of the virtual bumblebee:

  1. At a red dot, turn 90 degrees to the right, turn the dot blue, and move forward one cell;
  2. At a blue dot, turn 90 degrees to left, turn the dot red, and move forward one cell; and
  3. At an empty square, move forward one cell.

Depending on the density of occupied cells and the number of virtualized bees present in the simulation, different patterns from simply repeating loops to complex arrays suitable for modelling traffic and other quasisocial phenomena emerge.

Slides will be posted when they are available.


Images by the Mathematical Association of America.