Genius at Play: The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway
by Siobhan Roberts
Bloomsbury, 2015 (($30))
Mathematician John H. Conway's name pops up all over the mathematics world—group theory, game theory, knot theory, abstract algebra, geometry—and in the pages of this magazine, where he was frequently featured in Martin Gardner's Mathematical Games column. It was there that his most famous creation, Conway's Game of Life—a set of rules for propagating a pattern that generates incredible complexity—made its world debut. Science journalist Roberts's new biography of Conway demonstrates how the man's playfulness and originality has fed into the creativity and intelligence of his ideas. The tome resonates with Conway's voice—which gets its own special font—and his discussions with the author dictate the story's structure and provide the narrative's best glimpses into how his mind darts and weaves.