Renowned mathematician John Conway, the creator of one of the world’s first computer games, died last Saturday at the age of 82. A statement made by his wife, Diane, confirmed that Conway’s death was the result of complications related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Conway had been a resident of Parker at Landing Lane, a nursing home in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The nursing home had previously made an official announcement on their Web site that their facility had experienced multiple cases of coronavirus.
Conway, an avid researcher, and mathematician was born in Liverpool and later moved to New Jersey, where he served as Professor Emeritus at Princeton University for many years. His research career, which spanned over 60 years, included contributions to the fields of number theory, game theory, and code theory. In particular, he was known for being the first to discover and write about the concept of surreal numbers.
His contributions to the fields of technology were also vast. Conway became widely known as the creator of Conway’s Game of Life, one of the world’s very first computer games. It is a unique “zero-player game,” in which the player determines a starting configuration and watches it evolve. The game simulates the growth and reproduction of cells. Over the years, players have identified several unique shapes and patterns which can be created by the game.
Today, Conway’s Game of Life is commonly used as a tool to teach beginner computing techniques in classes all around the world. Additionally, the game can be played for free by merely inputting “Conway’s Game of Life” into Google’s search engine. Why not honor Conway’s life and contributions by starting up a game?
Conway is survived by his wife, Diane, and seven children.
Read the official tribute to Conway published by Princeton University here, which honors his awards earned, discoveries made, and years of service to the university.