A universal regulator is a regulator in which the incoming gliders are aligned to period 1, that is, they have arbitrary timing (subject to some minimum time required for the regulator to recover from the previous glider).
Paul Chapman constructed the first universal regulator in March 2003. It is adjustable, so that the output can be aligned to any desired period. A stable universal regulator was constructed by Dave Greene in September 2015, with a minimum delay between test signals of 1177 ticks, later reduced to 952 ticks. In 2020 Louis-François Handfield found a much more efficient mechanism, allowing signals separated by only 110 ticks to be regulated successfully, with a drive gun period as low as 74 ticks.
A universal regulator can allow two complex circuits to interact safely, even if they have different base periods. For example, signals from a stable logic circuit (where output signals might be produced at any time) could be processed by a period-30 mechanism, though the precise timing of those signals would change in most cases.
- Dave Greene (April 8, 2020). Re: Stable universal regulator (discussion thread) at the ConwayLife.com forums
- Stable universal regulator (discussion thread) at the ConwayLife.com forums