By Edmund Schluessel: Two tweets from his colleagues report the death of Prof. John Horton Conway, one of the most renowned mathematicians of the past century, from COVID-19.
As a mathematician Conway will probably be most remembered for his eponymous “Game of Life”, which illustrated how complex behaviors in mathematical systems could emerge from simple rules. Conway’s explorations in this subject fundamentally expanded the applications of the branch of mathematics known as cellular automaton theory.
Conway also earned a reputation as a popularizer of mathematics, writing multiple texts that brought ideas from the most abstract realms of mathematics to the everyday person. His mathematical game “Sprouts,” which draws on ideas from graph theory, presents a challenge with unexpected patterns emerging in each variation despite starting from rules appropriate for kindergarteners.
Among his most significant recent contributions was a series of papers with Simon Kochen which attempt to use mathematics to establish a deep relationship between free will and quantum mechanics.
Born in Liverpool, England in 1937, Conway spend the second half of his career as John von Neumann Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Princeton University.. He is survived by his wife Diana, seven children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.