Creating a simulator without the cagen module

In this part of the tutorial, we are going to model a moving tape in a turing machine using a 1d cellular automaton.

Behavior to model

In this model, tape cells have two separate values, a symbol (ranging from a to c) and optionally a symbol that gets carried to the left. A tape then looks something like this:

|a |b |c |c |a |b |a |c |c |a |c |a |b |b |a |a |c |c |a |a |a |a |c |b |a |
|  |  |<a|  |  |<a|  |  |  |  |<c|  |  |  |<c|  |  |<c|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |

In every step, a cell and its right neighbour are considered, and the rules for transmitting are like this:

+==+          +==+
| X|          | X|
+--+--+  -->  +--+
| ?|  |       |  |
+==+==+       +==+

+==+          +==+
| X|          | Y|
+--+--+  -->  +--+
| ?|<Y|       |<X|
+==+==+       +==+


A clever way to number the states is this one:

| a| a| a| a| b| b| b| b| c| c| c| c|
|<a|<b|<c|  |<a|<b|<c|  |<a|<b|<c|  |
 0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11

It has the property that the lower two bits and the upper two bits of the state number encode the upper and lower symbol the same way.

Then, the step function is pretty simple to implement. Assuming our states are in an array called self.cconf, we can use this neat trick to get each cell and its right neighbour from the array using pythons builtin function zip:

for index, (cell, next_cell) in enumerate(zip(self.cconf[:-1], self.cconf[1:])):

self.cconf[:-1] is the array ending on its penultimate cell and self.cconf[1:] is the array starting at its second cell. zip puts each element from both arrays into a tuple and enumerate adds an index to the front. The elements returned look like (5, (0, 3)) if the 5th cell is an “a <a” and the 6th cell is an “a”.

The first operation we need to do is to move the upper symbol down and moving the lower symbol up. This can be done with the bit masks ~3 (all but the lower 2 bits) and 3 (only the lower two bits). Turning the upper symbol into a lower symbol is then just a bit-shift operation away, as is turning the lower symbol into an upper symbol:

reversed = (value & 3) << 2 | (value & ~3) >> 2

The other operation needed for the step function is to clear the lower field by setting both lower bits (see the table: 3, 7 and 11 stand for an empty lower field), which is also easy:

upper_only = value | 3

The full step function is then simply this:

def step(self):
    for index, (cell, next_cell) in enumerate(zip(self.cconf[:-1], self.cconf[1:])):
        result = cell
        if next_cell & 3 == 3:
            # if the lowest 2 bytes are 1, no information is transferred and
            # the transferal state is cleared
            result = cell | 3
            # otherwise, the information from the right is moved here
            # and the own information is transferred.
            result = (next_cell & 3) << 2 | (cell & ~3) >> 2

        self.cconf[index] = result

    # notify any listeners, that the simulator has been stepped.
    self.step_number += 1

In addition to changing the configuration array, we need to emit the updated signal to comply with zasim.simulator.SimulatorInterface.

Building the Palette

In order for the simulator to correctly be displayed, we need to create a palette, too. zasim.display.console.MultilineOneDimConsolePainter can render images to ascii just like shown above with the right palette. Not creating a custom palette will give us output like this:

|11|3 |3 |7 |5 |11|7 |5 |7 |7 |7 |0 |3 |11|3 |7 |5 |3 |11|10|11|11|5 |3 |3 |

The code to get such an output is quite simple:

tape = TuringTapeSimulator()
painter = MultilineOneDimConsolePainter(tape)

A palette is created for us based on the possible_values attribute of the target object. However, a much better palette can easily be created with the following code:

palette = [[" a", " a", " a", " a", " b", " b", " b", " b", " c", " c", " c", " c"],
           ["<a", "<b", "<c", "  ", "<a", "<b", "<c", "  ", "<a", "<b", "<c", "  "]]
# optional: numerical values for each cell
values  =  [ 0,    1,    2,    3,    4,    5,    6,    7,    8,    9,    10,   11]
# probabilities for each cell to be in the starting configuration
probabs =  [0.1,   0,    0,   0.23,  0,  0.1,    0,   0.23,  0,    0,    0.1, 0.24]

# create ascii art boxes around each palette entry
palette = MultilineOneDimConsolePainter.box_art_palette(palette)
# convert the palette into the internal format used by the Painter.
palette = MultilineOneDimConsolePainter.convert_palette(palette, values)

Creating the Simulator class

Deriving from SimulatorInterface, a TuringTapeSimulator can easily be created. The first thing to note is, that a few properties are required to exist in the class, since otherwise other parts of zasim can and will complain.

The most important thing is a target object. There is no requirement for the target object to be a different object, so we can just set it up to be a TargetProxy. We set cconf and possible_values to be its target_attrs, which are the attributes, that the TargetProxy will make available. This requires a cconf to actually exist, so we use the probabilities list for a RandomConfiguration:

class TuringTapeSimulator(SimulatorInterface):
    def __init__(self):
        # call parents init so that Qt Signals can work
        super(TuringTapeSimulator, self).__init__()

        # use the palette for a character-boxes based renderer
        self.palette_info = {
                'cboxes': palette

        # set the size of the tape, as per the Simulator interface.
        self.shape = (25,)
        self.cconf = RandomConfiguration(12, *probabs).generate((self.shape))
        # do not send stuff from the right border.
        self.cconf[-1] = self.cconf[-1] | 3

        self.possible_values = values

        self.target_attrs = ["cconf", "possible_values"]

        self.t = TargetProxy(self, self.target_attrs)

    def get_config(self):
        # this is required for Painters to work.
        return self.cconf

Letting a simulation run

When the TuringTapeSimulator class is done, with its step function from above, it can be used quite simply:

tape = TuringTapeSimulator()
painter = MultilineOneDimConsolePainter(tape, compact_boxes=True)


for i in range(10):

Running that code gives us output like this:

$ python -m zasim.examples.turing.main
/usr/bin/python: No module named zasim.examples.turing