John Conway FRS mathematician, computer scientist and author has died from COVID-19, age 82 at his home in New Jersey (December 26, 1937 to April 11, 2020).
Conway’s most famous work was the Game of Life in 1970 (see the GIF below) which has been a mathematical recreation for decades. Its rules are simple but can produce levels of complexity that require massive computing power, but simple enough for beginning computer programmers using BASIC (e.g. me) to understand and create their own versions. Life was proven to be Turing Complete, meaning a computer could be built within the game (thus preceding Minecraft’s computer-in-a-game by decades). Conway despised his own creation for a long period until it found usefulness in studying cellular authomata. Conway would likely prefer to be remembered for his dozen books as well as his work in number theory, game theory, geometry, algebra, theoretical physics and many other branches of mathematics and science.
The Guardian, 2015: John Horton Conway: the world’s most charismatic mathematician
Quanta Magazine, 2015: A Life in Games
Cornell (arXiv.org): An Introduction to Conway’s Games and Numbers
Conway was also a longtime collaborator of Martin Gardner.
Numberphile has numerous videos featuring John Conway, all worth watching. In this video, from 2014, he reflects on his life and career.