Running a partial result works for a few generations until the corruption from any unfinished edge at the speed of light destroys the whole object. But a partial result can still be used to see whether the object (if ever finished) would provide a desired spark or perturbation. If no partial results are found than it is likely that no such object exists under the constraints of the search.
Very large partial results can indicate that there is a good chance that the object being searched for might actually exist (but this is no guarantee). Rerunning the search using the partial result as a base and relaxing some constraints, widening or adjusting the search area, or splitting the object into multiple arms, might result in finding a complete working object.
As an example, here is a large partial result for a period 6 knightship found by Josh Ball in April 2017; an extended version was independently rediscovered by Tomas Rokicki and developed into a fully-functional elementary knightship, Sir Robin, by Adam P. Goucher in March 2018.
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RLE: here Plaintext: here
- Josh Ball (April 8, 2017). Re: Spaceship Discussion Thread (discussion thread) at the ConwayLife.com forums
- Incomplete search patterns - try to complete (discussion thread) at the ConwayLife.com forums