This is Markov.
Markov's golf ball rolls around randomly.
Markov's ball will hole however he strikes it.
Markov is smart.
Be like Markov.

And this:
enter image description here is an anthill in Langton's backyard.
The anthill is big enough to hold Markov's golfball, MarGolf. However, the anthill moves and changes direction depending on the surrounding terrain.

The Task

Take an input of a 10x20 field:

  • * MarGolf
  • O Lanton's Anthill
  • , Anthill turns 90 degrees clockwise
  • . Anthill turns 90 degrees counterclockwise
  • 0 MarGolf in Langton's Anthill

A field looks like this:


Game rules:
The configuration of the input field is called tick 0. Your program needs to evaluate and print out the configuration of the next tick, in which both MarGolf and Langton's Anthill will move to another cell. The the item in the current cell will become the item currently in the target cell. If both MarGolf and the anthill move to the same cell in the next tick, the game ends.

Movement rules:

  • MarGolf moves randomly. All nine cells in the 3x3 area around MarGolf has equal chance of being selected. This becomes a choice among 6 cells at an edge of the field, and 4 cells at a corner.
  • Langton's Anthill needs to remember its movement direction of either up, down, left, or right (NSEW or whatever equivalent). It moves one cell in its direction each tick, and the original content of the cell changes its direction clockwise or anti-clockwise, as specified above. Initial direction at tick 0 is random, each direction has an equal chance of being the initial.


  • The program needs to print the configuration of each tick, until the game ends.
  • The tick number precedes the field configuration of each tick.
  • You may assume the input is always valid.
  • The shortest program is bytes wins.

Update: forgot to mention anthill reverses direction before moving if it would otherwise go off the field. Credit to user81655 for reminding.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Could anyone point where the "be like <insert name here> meme originated? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22, 2016 at 8:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @proudhaskeller I guess from the Be Like Bill facebook page, there's an article on Wikipedia you might want to read. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Be_like_Bill \$\endgroup\$
    – busukxuan
    Jan 22, 2016 at 9:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @proudhaskeller knowyourmeme.com/memes/be-like-bill-se-como-jose \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22, 2016 at 9:58
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Doorknob If I understand the challenge correctly, there is no tile under them. When you move one of them it swaps with the tile they move onto, and that tile determines the Os direction for the next step. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22, 2016 at 12:44
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @MartinButtner yes that is mostly correct. I avoided the term "swap" for one corner case, but the term is otherwise truthy. \$\endgroup\$
    – busukxuan
    Jan 22, 2016 at 12:49

1 Answer 1


Java 10, 611 609 607 593 591 bytes

m->{int x=0,y=0,X=0,Y=0,r=10,c,d=4,e;for(d*=Math.random();r-->0;)for(c=20;c-->0;){if(m[r][c]<43){x=r;y=c;}if(m[r][c]>48){X=r;Y=c;}}for(;;d=m[r][c]<45?d<2?d+2:d<3?1:0:d>1?d-2:d>0?2:3){p(m);for(e=4;e==4;e*=Math.random())e=9;m[r=x][c=y]=m[x+=e/3<1?x>0?-1:1:e/3>1?x<9?1:-1:0][y+=e%3<1?y>0?-1:1:e%3>1?y<19?1:-1:0];if(m[x][y]>48){m[x][y]=48;m[r][c]=0;p(m);e/=0;}m[x][y]=42;m[r=X][c=Y]=m[X+=d<1?X<9?1:-1:d==1?X>0?-1:1:0][Y+=d==2?Y<19?1:-1:d>2?Y>0?-1:1:0];if(m[X][Y]<43){m[r][c]=48;m[X][Y]=0;p(m);e/=0;}m[X][Y]=79;}}void p(char[][]m){var p="";for(var a:m)p+=p.valueOf(a)+"\n";System.out.println(p);}

-4 bytes thanks to @ceilingcat.

Assumes the final swap of * and O will empty the cell where * is coming from.


Try it online.

m->{                        // Method with character-matrix parameter and no return-type
  int x=0,y=0,              //  [x,y] coordinates of MarGolf
      X=0,Y=0,              //  [X,Y] coordinates of Langton's Anthill
      r=10,c,               //  Temp [x,y] coordinates
      d=4,                  //  Direction Langton's Anthill
      e;                    //  Direction MarGolf
  for(d*=Math.random();     //  Set the direction Langton's Anthill randomly [0,3]
      r-->0;)               //  Loop over the rows:
    for(c=20;c-->0;){       //   Inner loop over the columns:
      if(m[r][c]<43){       //    If '*' is found:
        x=r;y=c;}           //     Set MarGolf's [x,y] coordinates
      if(m[r][c]>48){       //    If 'O' is found:
        X=r;Y=c;}}          //     Set Langton's Anthill's [X,Y] coordinates
  for(;                     //  Loop indefinitely:
       ;                    //    After every iteration:
        d=                  //     Change the direction of Langton's Anthill:
          m[r][c]<45?       //      If the swapped cell contained a comma:
           d<2?d+2:d<3?1:0  //       Change the direction clockwise
          :                 //      Else (the swapped cell contained a dot):
           d>1?d-2:d>0?2:3){//       Change the direction counterclockwise
  p(m);                     //  Pretty-print the matrix
                            //  Change direction MarGolf randomly [0-9] (excluding 4)
  m[r=x][c=y]               //  Save the current MarGolf coordinates
                            //  And change that cell to the content in direction `e`
                            //  0 to 9 (excl. 4) is NW,N,NE,W,n/a,E,SW,S,SE respectively
                            //  If `e` would go out of bounds, it moves opposite instead
  if(m[x][y]>48){           //  If MarGolf reached Langton's Anthill:
    m[x][y]=48;             //   Set that cell to '0'
    m[r][c]=0;              //   And empty the swapped cell
    p(m);                   //   Print the final status of the matrix
    e/=0;}                  //   And stop the loop with an error to exit the program
  m[x][y]=42;               //  Change the cell in the new coordinate to '*'
  m[r=X][c=Y]               //  Save the current Langton's Anthill coordinates
                            //  And change that cell to the content in direction `d`
                            //  0 to 3 is E,W,S,N respectively
                            //  If `d` would be out of bounds, it moves opposite instead
  if(m[X][Y]<43){           //  If MarGolf reached Langton's Anthill:
    m[r][c]=48;             //   Set that cell to '0'
    m[X][Y]=0;              //   And empty the swapped cell
    p(m);                   //   Print the final status of the matrix
    e/=0;}                  //   And stop the loop with an error to exit the method
  m[X][Y]=79;}}             //  Change the cell in the new coordinate to 'O'

void p(char[][]m){          // Separated method to print the given matrix
  var p="";                 //  String to print, starting empty
  for(var a:m){             //  Loop over the rows:
    p+=p.valueOf(a)         //   Convert the character-array to a String line and append,
                     +"\n"; //   including a trailing newline
  System.out.println(p);}   //  Print the String with trailing newline as separator

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