On Local Symmetries and Universality in Cellular Automata

Authors Laurent Boyer, Guillaume Theyssier

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Laurent Boyer
Guillaume Theyssier

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Laurent Boyer and Guillaume Theyssier. On Local Symmetries and Universality in Cellular Automata. In 26th International Symposium on Theoretical Aspects of Computer Science. Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 3, pp. 195-206, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2009)


Cellular automata (CA) are dynamical systems defined by a finite local rule but they are studied for their global dynamics. They can exhibit a wide range of complex behaviours and a celebrated result is the existence of (intrinsically) universal CA, that is CA able to fully simulate any other CA. In this paper, we show that the asymptotic density of universal cellular automata is 1 in several families of CA defined by local symmetries. We extend results reviously established for captive cellular automata in two significant ways. First, our results apply to well-known families of CA (e.g. the family of outer-totalistic CA containing the Game of Life) and, second, we obtain such density results with both increasing number of states and increasing neighbourhood. Moreover, thanks to universality-preserving encodings, we show that the universality problem remains undecidable in some of those families.
  • Cellular automata
  • Universality
  • Asymptotic density


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