# Oscillator (cellular automaton)

In a cellular automaton, an **oscillator** is a pattern that returns to its original state, in the same orientation and position, after a finite number of generations. Thus the evolution of such a pattern repeats itself indefinitely. Depending on context, the term may also include spaceships as well.

The smallest number of generations it takes before the pattern returns to its initial condition is called the *period* of the oscillator. An oscillator with a period of 1 is usually called a **still life**, as such a pattern never changes. Sometimes, still lifes are not taken to be oscillators. Another common stipulation is that an oscillator must be finite.