Generative Art

One hundred lights

Jun 1, 2023

Notes on the Synthesis of Form
Chapter 3, The Source of Good Fit

> We shall perhaps understand the idea of a system’s history best if we make a simple picture of it

> Imagine a system of a hundred lights. Each light can be in one of two possible states. In one state the light is on. The lights are so constructed that any light which is on always has a 50-50 change of going off in the next second. In the other state the light is off. Connections between lights are constructed so that any light which is off has a 50-50 chance of going on again in the next second, provided at least one of the lights it is connected to is on. If the lights it is directly connected to are off, for the time being it has chance of going on again, and stays off. If the lights are her all off simultaneously, then they will all stay off for good, since when no light is one, none of the lights has any chance of being reactivated. This is a state of equilibrium. Sooner or later the system of lights will reach it

> This system of lights will help us understand the history of a form-making process. Each light is a binary variable, and so may be thought of as a misfit variable. The off state corresponds to fit; the on state corresponds to misfit. The fact that a light which is on has a 50-50 chance of going off every second, corresponds to the fact that whenever a mis fit occurs efforts are made to correct it. The fact that lights which are off can be turned on again by connected lights, corresponds to the fact that even well-fitting aspects of a form can be unhinged by changes initiated to correct some other misfit because of connections between variables. The state of equilibrium, when all the lights are off, corresponds to perfect fit or adaptation. It is the equilibrium in which all the misfit variables take the value 0 . Sooner or later the system of lights will always reach this equilibrium. The only question that remains is, how long will it take for this to happen? It is not hard to see that apart from chance this depends only on the pattern of interconnections between the lights.

> […]

> No complex adaptive system will succeed in adapting in a reasonable amount of time unless the adaptation can proceed subsystem by subsystem, each subsystem relatively independent of the others.


  • 100 lights

  • Random connections

  • Average number of connections: 1.5

  • Key:

    • White: On

    • Gray: Off, but has a connected light that is on

    • Gray, small: Off and has no connected lights that are on

  • Stats

    • T: Time, i.e. frames

    • C: Average number of connections per light

    • L: Number of lights that are on

  • Controls

    • Click to reset

    • S key to save png

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