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Cellular Automata as a Tool to Simulate Traffic and Biological Procedures

Automata theory – is it really just dull theory? Not only…

Every living creature consists of cells, which means all animals, plants and humans are just a bundle of tiny cells. A very important biological process ensuring the continuous growth of such creatures is cell division. As the name implies, one cell splits itself into two new ones. But how long does this process take? And what does it look like, does it look different in different cell types?

Just a second ago you drove 120 km/h on the autobahn but then a car appeared flashing its warning lights and now you are stuck in a traffic jam! But how did that happen? You cannot spot the cause anywhere. Most people ask themselves how those traffic jams without a visible cause happen on their way to their travel destination.

You might ask yourself what this has to do with computer science. Well, in this module students get an overview how cellular automata can be used to simulate cell division and traffic. Those two topics are completely different, yet computer science tools can be used to illustrate both of them.

So, automata theory is not just dull theory. Simulations of self-replicating organisms, of gases and liquids, even of traffic can be done by using cellular automata. With them you can formulate atomic rules that, when applied to a singular cell, create complex simulations providing you a look at the future.

Educational Stage
High School
Required Knowledge
basics of Java
knowledge in biology is not required
4,5 hours (incl. breaks)
Created by
Michaela Wehling