Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Computer Science


School of Computer Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Karant, Yasha

Second Advisor

Gomez, Ernesto

Third Advisor

Schubert, Keith Evan


This thesis investigates the nature of elementary cellular automata to better understand their relationship of the models they support to the biological organisms that create the mats and soil crusts found in extreme environments here on earth. Cellular automata have been used to study growth and patterns in forests, arid desert environments, predator-prey problems, and sea shells. It has also been used to study areas of diverse epidemiology and linguistics. Cellular automata have been used as the core of computer games as well. This investigation has led to develop a graphical grammar for simple cellular automata, using L-systems, a grammar system designed by a biologist, Aristid Lindenmayer, to describe growth in biological systems. Also discussed is scaling algorithms, and the associated variable dependencies that create them. All of the cellular automata investigated in this thesis are totalistic (they update simultaneously). Random updating of cells in models to simulate the random availability of resources (water and nutrients) could be especially useful in models of resource limited ecologies like deserts, the artic, and even Mars.