Wave Function Collapse Explained

A simple guide to constraint solving

Since developing DeBroglie and Tessera, I’ve had a lot of requests to explain what it is, how it works. The generation can often seem quite magical, but actually the rules underlying it are quite simple.

So, what is the Wave Function Collapse algorithm (WFC)? Well, it’s an algorithm developed by Maxim Gumin based on work by Paul Merrell for generating tile based images based off simple configuration or sample images. If you’ve come here hoping to learn about quantum physics, you are going to be disappointed.

WFC is capable of a lot of stuff – just browse Maxim’s examples, or check out #wavefunctioncollapse on twitter, or see my youtube video.

WFC is explained briefly in Maxim’s README, but I felt it needed a fuller explanation from first principals. It is a slight twist on a much more broad concept – constraint programming. So much of this article is going to explain constraint programming, and we’ll get back to WFC at the end.

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