We will explore different strategies and algorithms to generate random mazes, we will learn their pros and cons and how to choose the right one for the job. For each of them, we have the possibility to play with interactive visualizations online, consult copiously illustrated descriptions and download the source code used.
To get fun. To enjoy animations of our own maze constructions. To explore.
We will learn how to code and generate mazes step-by-step. We will also practice algorithmic thinking and programming concepts such as : adjacency lists, memory efficiency, recursion, spanning tree, speed efficiency.
Now that we handle maze creation, let's try to find the way out with our path finding algorithms.
“Your mind is a walled garden. Even death cannot touch the flowers blooming there.” (Ford - Westworld)
For thousands of years, humans have been fascinated by mazes and labyrinths : they built them, told stories about them, created games and puzzles around them, and even studied animal comportments within them.
Please note that maze and labyrinth does not have the same meaning. Compared to mazes there are no tricks or dead ends on labyrinths : they have a single circuitous path instead (they are unicursal) and are most often used for relaxation, meditation or spirituality.
Itoi Labyrinth - Man in the maze (described within spiritual section below)
Labyrinth board game
The classical mazes on cereal boxes
Giant Ice Maze as the largest (2006) in the resort town of Zakopane, Poland
You may find tons of movies about mazes.
Maze of Life and the Prevailing Uncertainty
According to ancient Greek legend, the original maze was built by the architect Daedalus and his son Icarusto to house the Minotaur : a creature with the body of a man and the head of a bull. The legend further tell that Daedalus had so cunningly made the maze, he could barely escape it after the construction.
From the mythological mazes of Ancient Greece to the massive vegetation / ice / stage / corn mazes of the 21st century, here is 3 of the main reasons why we think mazes are so attracting.
Maze are confusing and comforting at the same time : we are lost, but heading toward an existing exit. It makes it very entertaining and addictive.
Since the 16th century, mazes were meant to entertain, as well as to provide private, out-of-the-way places for secret meetings. Nowadays, they are in all forms and you may find them everywhere : on almost all of the cereal boxes, at amusement parks (e.g. Alice in Wonderland, Mirror labyrinth at the fair), in board games (e.g. the game that's literally named "Labyrinth"), in video games (almost in all of them), in movies (e.g. the film that's literally named "Labyrinth") etc.
Children seem to have an almost immediate and deep natural connection with mazes. They will take on the challenge of almost any maze. Maze provides the experience of problem solving while kiddos see it as a game. Instead of hurt feelings or embarrassment a classical problem may have, mazes assist anyone to calm down, make transitions, and focus.
Mazes particularly help children to develop skills such as: - Planning and brainstorming various strategies. - Getting spatial representation and developing orientation. - Scanning complex environment and memorizing paths. - Relaxing.
There is love in the labyrinth There is darkness in the labyrinth The exit may not be where you think it is
We all are on a path. The labyrinth is a metaphor for life's journey; a symbol that creates a sacred space and place that takes us out of our ego to that which is within. Ancient labyrinths were designed to be serene and introspective. In some lands, young men would walk through a labyrinth as part of their initiation into adulthood.
Unicursal labyrinth patterns like the “Itoi” (“Man in the Maze”) above may represents life's cycles, eternal motion, and the choices we are confronted with. The right choices lead us to a point of harmony with all things, no matter how hard or long the road taken. At the center of the maze is a circle, which stands for death. Death is not the exit, but the beginning of a new journey and, thus, to a new cycle.