A Biology undergraduate at the University of California Davis, David gained an M.S. and Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Temple University and Thomas Jefferson University, respectively. During his career he has attended a month long NSF workshop in microbiology and taken sabbatical leave to pursue research in plant pathology at the University of Scranton. At present he is working on the development of fast techniques (PCR) for diagnosis of plant disease. In addition, David is interested in the ecological significance of bacteria which are metabolic generalsists versus specialists. He has had many papers and abstracts published by the leading journals in his field.
Project: Three Projects designed to introduce NKS ideas to students at King's College (Wilkes - Barre, PA)
The first project concerned modeling leaf shapes without, and later, with stems. It is envisioned that students will will be provided with live or dead leaves and asked to see if they can modify parameters in the simple NKS rules developed to reproduce given leaf shapes.
The second project developed a NKS system to allow students to "dig" into a simulated fossil bed. The initial step is to produce the fossil bed using a custom function (containing a random term) and the CellularAutomaton function. Once students have created a simulation of species becoming extinct and remaining as fossils, they will be able to make "Digs". For example, specifying that 100 iterations of the CellularAutomaton function represent 100 million years in time we have that the bottom of the graph represents speices alive 100 million years ago with the top corresponding to rock that is only 1 million years old. A function, excavate, which takes as a paramter the age of the fossils one wishes to 'dig' for, is developed for exploration by students.
The final project is to challenge students to find a simple NKS rule that produces a rudimentary face with "eyes, nose, and mouth". This project aims to involve students in using a NKS system to search for rules with for potential use in simulating fertilized egg beginning to divide and form tissues and organs in animal development.
Conclusion: With the right initial conditions, a simple rule was found that could create a rudimentary face. This suggests that one or more simple rules might play key roles in developmental biology as an egg is fertilized and begins to divide. The correct initial conditions were crucial and are as important as finding the correct rule.
Favorite Three-Color Cellular Automaton
Rule Chosen: 666880135392
Reason: Here is the most interesting one that I found. It is Rule 666880135392 and has 4 different CA states within a single CA. I think this is pretty unique. I would like eventually to try this technique with the 4th iteration and 3rd to see if they work as well as the 5th iteration.