We study the dynamics of patterns exhibited by rule 52, a totalistic cellular automaton displaying intricate behaviors and wide regions of active/inactive synchronization patches. Systematic computer simulations involving 230 initial configurations reveal that all complexity in this automaton originates from random juxtaposition of a very small number of interfaces delimiting active/inactive patches. Such interfaces are studied with a sidewise spatial updating algorithm. This novel tool allows us to prove that the interfaces found empirically are the only interfaces possible for these periods, independently of the size of the automata. The spatial updating algorithm provides an alternative way to determine the dynamics of automata of arbitrary size, a way of taking into account the complexity of the connections in the lattice.

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