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Decades-old mathematical mystery about the Game of Life finally solved

A mathematical game governed by simple rules throws up patterns of seemingly infinite complexity – and now a question that has puzzled hobbyists for decades has a solution

By Matthew Sparkes

25 December 2023

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A pattern in the Game of Life that repeats after every 19 steps

A long-standing mystery about repeating patterns in a two-dimensional mathematical game has been solved after more than 50 years with the discovery of two final pieces in the puzzle.

The result is believed to have no practical application whatsoever, but will satisfy the curiosity of the coterie of hobbyists obsessed with the Game of Life.

Invented by mathematician John Conway in 1970, the Game of Life is a cellular automaton – a simplistic world simulation that consists of…

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