John Horton Conway

John Horton Conway is an English mathematician active in the theory of finite groups, knot theory, number theory, combinatorial game theory and coding theory. He has contributed to many branches of recreational mathematics, notably the invention of the cellular automaton called the Game of Life. Conway spent the first half of his long career at the University of Cambridge, in England, the second half at Princeton University in New Jersey, where he now holds the title Professor Emeritus. Conway was born in the son of Cyril Horton Conway and Agnes Boyce, he became interested in mathematics at a early age. By the age of eleven his ambition was to become a mathematician. After leaving sixth form, Conway entered Caius College, Cambridge to study mathematics. Conway, a "terribly introverted adolescent" in school, interpreted his admission to Cambridge as an opportunity to transform himself into a new person: an "extrovert", he was awarded his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1959 and began to undertake research in number theory supervised by Harold Davenport.

Having solved the open problem posed by Davenport on writing numbers as the sums of fifth powers, Conway began to become interested in infinite ordinals. It appears that his interest in games began during his years studying the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos, where he became an avid backgammon player, spending hours playing the game in the common room, he was awarded his doctorate in 1964 and was appointed as College Fellow and Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. After leaving Cambridge in 1986, he took up the appointment to the John von Neumann Chair of Mathematics at Princeton University. Conway is known for the invention of the Game of Life, one of the early examples of a cellular automaton, his initial experiments in that field were done with pen and paper, long before personal computers existed. Since the game was introduced by Martin Gardner in Scientific American in 1970, it has spawned hundreds of computer programs, web sites, articles, it is a staple of recreational mathematics.

There is an extensive wiki devoted to cataloging the various aspects of the game. From the earliest days it has been a favorite in computer labs, both for its theoretical interest and as a practical exercise in programming and data display. At times Conway has said he hates the Game of Life–largely because it has come to overshadow some of the other deeper and more important things he has done; the game did help launch a new branch of mathematics, the field of cellular automata. The Game of Life is now known to be Turing complete. Conway's career is intertwined with mathematics popularizer and Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner; when Gardner featured Conway's Game of Life in his Mathematical Games column in October 1970, it became the most read of all his columns and made Conway an instant celebrity. Gardner and Conway had first corresponded in the late 1950s, over the years Gardner had written about recreational aspects of Conway's work. For instance, he discussed Conway's game of Sprouts and his angel and devil problem.

In the September 1976 column he reviewed Conway's book On Numbers and Games and introduced the public to Conway's surreal numbers. Conferences called Gathering 4 Gardner are held every two years to celebrate the legacy of Martin Gardner, Conway himself has been a featured speaker at these events, discussing various aspects of recreational mathematics. Conway is known for his contributions to combinatorial game theory, a theory of partisan games; this he developed with Elwyn Berlekamp and Richard Guy, with them co-authored the book Winning Ways for your Mathematical Plays. He wrote the book On Numbers and Games which lays out the mathematical foundations of CGT, he is one of the inventors of sprouts, as well as philosopher's football. He developed detailed analyses of many other games and puzzles, such as the Soma cube, peg solitaire, Conway's soldiers, he came up with the angel problem, solved in 2006. He invented a new system of numbers, the surreal numbers, which are related to certain games and have been the subject of a mathematical novel by Donald Knuth.

He invented a nomenclature for exceedingly large numbers, the Conway chained arrow notation. Much of this is discussed in the 0th part of ONAG. In the mid-1960s with Michael Guy, son of Richard Guy, Conway established that there are sixty-four convex uniform polychora excluding two infinite sets of prismatic forms, they discovered the grand antiprism in the only non-Wythoffian uniform polychoron. Conway has suggested a system of notation dedicated to describing polyhedra called Conway polyhedron notation. In the theory of tessellations, he devised the Conway criterion which describes rules for deciding if a prototile will tile the plane, he investigated lattices in higher dimensions, was the first to determine the symmetry group of the Leech lattice. In knot theory, Conway formulated a new variation of the Alexander polynomial and produced a new invariant now called the Conway polynomial. After lying dormant for more than a decade, this concept became central to work in the 1980s on the novel knot polynomials.

Conway further developed tangle theory and invented a system of notation for tabulating knots, nowadays known as Conway notation, while correcting a number of errors in the 19th century knot tables and extending them to include all but four of the non-alternating primes with 11 crossings. See Topology Proceedings 7 118, he was the primary author of the ATLAS of Finite Groups giving prope

Geometry

Geometry is a branch of mathematics concerned with questions of shape, relative position of figures, the properties of space. A mathematician who works in the field of geometry is called a geometer. Geometry arose independently in a number of early cultures as a practical way for dealing with lengths and volumes. Geometry began to see elements of formal mathematical science emerging in the West as early as the 6th century BC. By the 3rd century BC, geometry was put into an axiomatic form by Euclid, whose treatment, Euclid's Elements, set a standard for many centuries to follow. Geometry arose independently in India, with texts providing rules for geometric constructions appearing as early as the 3rd century BC. Islamic scientists expanded on them during the Middle Ages. By the early 17th century, geometry had been put on a solid analytic footing by mathematicians such as René Descartes and Pierre de Fermat. Since and into modern times, geometry has expanded into non-Euclidean geometry and manifolds, describing spaces that lie beyond the normal range of human experience.

While geometry has evolved throughout the years, there are some general concepts that are more or less fundamental to geometry. These include the concepts of points, planes, surfaces and curves, as well as the more advanced notions of manifolds and topology or metric. Geometry has applications to many fields, including art, physics, as well as to other branches of mathematics. Contemporary geometry has many subfields: Euclidean geometry is geometry in its classical sense; the mandatory educational curriculum of the majority of nations includes the study of points, planes, triangles, similarity, solid figures and analytic geometry. Euclidean geometry has applications in computer science and various branches of modern mathematics. Differential geometry uses techniques of linear algebra to study problems in geometry, it has applications in physics, including in general relativity. Topology is the field concerned with the properties of geometric objects that are unchanged by continuous mappings. In practice, this means dealing with large-scale properties of spaces, such as connectedness and compactness.

Convex geometry investigates convex shapes in the Euclidean space and its more abstract analogues using techniques of real analysis. It has close connections to convex analysis and functional analysis and important applications in number theory. Algebraic geometry studies geometry through the use of multivariate polynomials and other algebraic techniques, it has applications including cryptography and string theory. Discrete geometry is concerned with questions of relative position of simple geometric objects, such as points and circles, it shares many principles with combinatorics. Computational geometry deals with algorithms and their implementations for manipulating geometrical objects. Although being a young area of geometry, it has many applications in computer vision, image processing, computer-aided design, medical imaging, etc; the earliest recorded beginnings of geometry can be traced to ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt in the 2nd millennium BC. Early geometry was a collection of empirically discovered principles concerning lengths, angles and volumes, which were developed to meet some practical need in surveying, construction and various crafts.

The earliest known texts on geometry are the Egyptian Rhind Papyrus and Moscow Papyrus, the Babylonian clay tablets such as Plimpton 322. For example, the Moscow Papyrus gives a formula for calculating the volume of a truncated pyramid, or frustum. Clay tablets demonstrate that Babylonian astronomers implemented trapezoid procedures for computing Jupiter's position and motion within time-velocity space; these geometric procedures anticipated the Oxford Calculators, including the mean speed theorem, by 14 centuries. South of Egypt the ancient Nubians established a system of geometry including early versions of sun clocks. In the 7th century BC, the Greek mathematician Thales of Miletus used geometry to solve problems such as calculating the height of pyramids and the distance of ships from the shore, he is credited with the first use of deductive reasoning applied to geometry, by deriving four corollaries to Thales' Theorem. Pythagoras established the Pythagorean School, credited with the first proof of the Pythagorean theorem, though the statement of the theorem has a long history.

Eudoxus developed the method of exhaustion, which allowed the calculation of areas and volumes of curvilinear figures, as well as a theory of ratios that avoided the problem of incommensurable magnitudes, which enabled subsequent geometers to make significant advances. Around 300 BC, geometry was revolutionized by Euclid, whose Elements considered the most successful and influential textbook of all time, introduced mathematical rigor through the axiomatic method and is the earliest example of the format still used in mathematics today, that of definition, axiom and proof. Although most of the contents of the Elements were known, Euclid arranged them into a single, coherent logical framework; the Elements was known to all educated people in the West until the middle of the 20th century and its contents are still taught in geometry classes today. Archimedes of Syracuse used the method of exhaustion to calculate the area under the arc of a parabola with the summation of an infinite series, gave remarkably accurate approximations of Pi.

He studied the sp