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This is then finally how universality is achieved in rule 110. The idea is just to set up initial conditions that correspond to the blocks that appear in the rule for whatever cyclic tag system one wants to emulate.

The necessary initial conditions consist of repetitions of blocks of cells, where each of these blocks contains a pattern of localized structures that corresponds to the block of elements that appear in the rule for the cyclic tag system. The blocks of cells are always quite complicated—for the cyclic tag system discussed in most of this section they are each more than 3000 cells wide—but the crucial point is that such blocks can be constructed for any cyclic tag system. And what this means is that with suitable initial conditions, rule 110 can in fact be made to emulate any cyclic tag system.

It should be mentioned at this point however that there are a few additional complications involved in setting up appropriate initial conditions to make rule 110 emulate many cyclic tag systems. For as the pictures earlier in this section demonstrate, the way we have made rule 110 emulate cyclic tag systems relies on many details of the interactions between localized structures in rule 110. And it turns out that to make sure that with the specific construction used the appropriate interactions continue to occur at every step, one must put some constraints on the cyclic tag systems being emulated.

In essence, these constraints end up being that the blocks that appear in the rule for the cyclic tag system must always be a multiple of six elements long, and that there must be some bound on the number of steps that can elapse between the addition of successive new elements to the cyclic tag system sequence.

Using the ideas discussed on page 669, it is not difficult, however, to make a cyclic tag system that satisfies these constraints, but that emulates any other cyclic tag system. And as a result, we may therefore conclude that rule 110 can in fact successfully emulate absolutely any cyclic tag system. And this means that rule 110 is indeed universal.

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