Genius at Play

Genius at Play

The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway

Book - 2015
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John Horton Conway, von Neumann Professor of mathematics at Princeton University since 1987, is a legendary polymath and showman. Known for his puckish curiosity and unique thought processes, he was depicted in a Scientific American article with a cartoon drawing of a horned sphere growing from his head. Fittingly, such a knotty sphere is called a pathological example, a mathematical phenomenon with atypical or counterintuitive properties, much like Conway himself.
Although Conway is most widely known for inventing the cellular automaton called the Game of Life, he is a prize-winning Fellow of Britain's Royal Society and his contributions to the mathematical canon run broad and deep - game theory, knot theory, number theory, coding theory, group theory, and geometry. In several ways Conway is the Richard Feynman of mathematics. The comparison works both as a measure of the startling originality of his discoveries (the Conway Constellation, Surreal Numbers, the Monster Group), and the mischievous nature of his mind. He eschews established mathematical tools, preferring to build ideas from scratch, and he denigrates generalization in exaltation of the special argument.
Your Game, Professor Conway is a fast-paced narrative that captures the adventures of one of the most enigmatic and creative characters in modern mathematics. Siobhan Roberts has had unparalleled access to Conway and gives readers a guided tour through the knotty twists and turns of Conway's egocentric personality and his fractious professional and personal relationships, while deftly making accessible to general readers Conway's brilliant mathematics.
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury, 2015
ISBN: 9781620405932
1620405938
Characteristics: xxiv 454 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm

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rpavlacic
Mar 13, 2016

Part genius, part rock star, even part mad man, John Horton Conway is one of the leading mathematicians of our time, perhaps best known for the Game of Life. This is the story of his improbable rise to the top of the profession. A good biography although pedantic at times and stuffed with too much math and not enough explanations to put it into layperson's terms.

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