Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Today is a Good Day to Demo


One of the things I always feel indebted to Jonathan Bachrach for is how pretty Proto looks.  When we were first developing the language together, he was the one who hacked together the original simulator with OpenGL, based on the previous work he'd done with multimedia processing languages.  So Proto's simulator got built by somebody to whom appearance really mattered, and with an artists touch and attention to detail.  And so, to me at least, the simulations we make look gorgeous, and I just love playing with them.

Well, today I got to show off my toys in the SASO demo session.  This spring, I put together a set of self-stabilizing algorithms for robot team formation. Kyle Usbeck and Jeff Cleveland then helped turn these into a nice demonstration---well, it was a contest entry originally, but SASO didn't get enough entries, so they just rolled us into the demo session.  In any case, the robots form up into little "snakes" for each team, and go crawling randomly around in 2D or 3D in wonderfully distracting colorful patterns.

Kyle and Jeff made a nice movie showing off the algorithms, and how they're resilient to pretty much any way you can think of the break them---adding robots, destroying robots, moving robots, changing goals and communication properties, etc.:


The upshot of all of this today is that I got to talk myself hoarse in front of a projector for two hours while lots of folks enjoyed the beauty of our simulation, and hopefully even got to understand a bit about Proto and the continuous space abstractions that made it all so easy to do.

If you want to play with this stuff too, feel free: you can read about it and download it all here.
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