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Majority-Vote Cellular Automata, Ising Dynamics, and P-Completeness


We study cellular automata where the state at each site is decided by a majority vote of the sites in its neighborhood. These are equivalent, for a restricted set of initial conditions, to nonzero probability transitions in single spin-flip dynamics of the Ising model at zero temperature. We show that in three or more dimensions these systems can simulate Boolean circuits of AND and OR gates, and are therefore P-complete. That is, predicting their state t time-steps in the future is at least as hard as any other problem that takes polynomial time on a serial computer. Therefore, unless a widely believed conjecture in computer science is false, it is impossible even with parallel computation to predict majority-vote cellular automata, or zero-temperature single spin-flip Ising dynamics, qualitatively faster than by explicit simulation.

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Moore, C. Majority-Vote Cellular Automata, Ising Dynamics, and P-Completeness. Journal of Statistical Physics 88, 795–805 (1997).

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  • Cellular automata
  • Ising model
  • voting models
  • single sin-flip dynamics
  • computational complexity
  • parallel computation
  • P-completeness