Syllabus for Math 90

John Conway's Work in Popular Mathematics

MWF, 1:10-2:00, XS 303 John Conway is a Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University. He has done much important work in esoteric pure mathematics such as group theory. But he has also had many innovative ideas in popular or recreational mathematics, such as his Game of Life, his Theory of Games, and his "Look-and-say" sequence. This seminar will focus on his ideas in popular mathematics. Other of his ideas that should be discussed are surreal numbers and Fractran. The only prerequisites are high school mathematics and a curiosity about mathematical ideas.

The closest thing to a text is Winning Ways for your Mathematical Plays by Berlekamp, Conway, and Guy. As it is split into four volumes, and we will not use it a lot, students are not required to purchase it. It will be available on reserve in the Fairchild Library, and the e-version is accessible.

Your grade will be based 20% on a midterm exam, 35% on a final exam, and 45% on a combination of class attendance/participation, homework, and possible projects or presentations.