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random, then progressively modifies the pattern so as to make it closer to satisfying the constraints.

As a specific example consider taking a series of steps, and at each step picking a square in the array discussed above at random, then reversing the color of this square whenever doing so will not increase the total number of squares in the array that violate the constraints.

The picture below shows results obtained with this procedure. For the first few steps, there is rapid improvement. But as one goes on, one sees that the rate of improvement gets slower and slower. And even after a million steps, it turns out that 15% of the squares in a 10×10 array will on average still not satisfy the constraints.

In practical situations this kind of approximate result can sometimes be useful, but the pictures at the top of the facing page show that the actual patterns obtained do not look much at all like the exact results that we saw for this system in Chapter 5.

Captions on this page:

The results of a procedure intended to produce patterns that get progressively closer to satisfying the constraints described on page 211. The procedure starts with a randomly chosen pattern, then at each step picks a square in the pattern at random, and reverses the color of this square whenever doing so does not increase the total number of squares in the pattern that violate the constraints. The top picture shows one particular run of this procedure. The second picture shows the average behavior obtained from many runs. And finally, the bottom picture shows how the fraction of patterns with different percentages of squares violating the constraints changes as the procedure progresses. In all cases 10×10 patterns are used.

From Stephen Wolfram: A New Kind of Science [citation]