COSC 326 Étude 1 Ants on a plane!


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In this étude you are going to be simulating (some of) the behaviour of creatures related
to Langton’s ant. Imagine an (in principle) infinite plane, with a lonely ant initially
standing at (0, 0). The ant will take a certain sequence of steps of unit length in one of
the four compass directions determined by various rules (i.e., its “DNA”). These rules
specify the direction of the next step based on the previous step, and the state of the
ant’s current position – they may also specify a change in that state.
For instance, the traditional Langton’s Ant lives on a plane with two possible states
(black and white) and with the rules “right on white, left on black, flip the colour”.
The basic problem you will be asked to solve here is, given an ant’s DNA, determine
its location after a certain number of steps (starting on a plane whose points are all of
some given state).
One of the purposes of this étude is to introduce a standard format we will be using for
many tasks. In this format, input will come from stdin and will consist of a sequence
of “scenarios” separated from one another by blank lines. There may also be some lines
beginning with the hash character, #. These are comments and should be ignored entirely. The output for each scenario is to echo the input for that scenario (not including
comments), followed by a line beginning with #, followed by a single space, and then
the required “answer” for the scenario. (Set up this way, in testing I can use the correct
output file as input, and then just diff your output with it – no need to keep separate
input and output files around!)
In this task an individual scenario consists of the DNA of an ant, followed by a positive
integer (the number of steps you are to follow the ant for). For Langton’s ant, the DNA
is represented as follows:
w ESWN bbbb
b WNES wwww
Each line of DNA consists of three parts:
• A single character representing a state.
• A sequence of four compass directions representing the direction of the next step
from a point in this state, after arriving with a North, East, South, and West step
respectively (so if a Langton’s ant arrives at a white point from the south, i.e.,
using a North step, its next step is East – a right turn).
COSC 326 2017 Semester 2 Étude 1
• A sequence of four characters representing the state of the point after the ant
leaves (again based on the incoming direction).
Initially, all points of the plane are presumed to be in the state coded by the first line of
the DNA (e.g., w above), and the ant is facing North on the point (0, 0) (i.e., its first step
is to be determined as if it had arrived at (0, 0) from the south).
It is not to be assumed that there will always be just two states, or that they are coded
by letters. For instance this is a perfectly valid DNA representation:
. EEEE xxxx
y SEWN x.!y
x WEEE !!!!
! NWES .yx!
You may assume that the DNA is always complete (i.e., you will not be given possible
states in the third part that are not represented in the list).
The output for a scenario is to echo the input of each scenario (except comments), followed by a line consisting of a # character, followed by a space, then the x-coordinate of
the ant’s final position, another space, and the y-coordinate of the ant’s final position.
Scenarios should be separated by blank lines.
Note that we use the standard mathematical conventions for points in the plane. Starting from point (x, y):
Step Destination
N- (x, y + 1)
E- (x + 1, y)
S- (x, y − 1)
W- (x − 1, y)
(Pair 2)