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Wolfram Summer School

June 18–July 7, 2017
Bentley University, Waltham, MA
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Pieter Van der Weeën

Class of 2009


Pieter Van der Weeën is a master's student in bioenginering (chemistry and biotechnology) at the University of Ghent in Belgium. Although his knowledge of cellular automata is still limited, he hopes to discover a new passion in life and thinks that this Summer School will be a great preparation for his thesis next year.

Project: Implementation and Investigation of Chemical-Clock Reactions using Cellular Automata

This project will try to create a practical chemistry application of CA. The focus will be on a specific class of chemical reactions called the chemical-clock reactions, which are non-equilibrium reactions with cyclic wave-like behavior. Special attention will be given to the Belousov-Zhabotinskii reaction, an example of a chemical-clock reaction that can be described by means of partial differential equations. Although research has already been done in this field, the information is scarce and so there is much more to explore and discover.

The Greenberg-Hastings model (GHM) generates the behavior of complex chemical reactions that oscillate and display features of waves and spirals, which makes it applicable for this project.

This project will be split up into three main parts. In the first part, the general behavior of the GHM will be studied to find the main classes of "structures" under different parameter values and initial conditions. To do so, an efficient implementation of the GHM will have to precede the actual investigation. In the second part the focus will be on performing a sensitivity analysis on the model parameters to enable the third part, which will be the optimization of a parameter set. This will be accomplished using the hill-climbing algorithm. Although this method is somewhat naïve and thereby not faultless, it is an easy way to get a first idea of the problem.

If time permits it, the Belousov-Zhabotinskii will also be modeled in 3D and other interesting topics may be explored, depending on what new questions arise during the course of the project.

Favorite Three-Color Cellular Automaton

Rule 6697614745710