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Improbable John Conway/Pizza Hut collaboration for π day

John Conway, here pictured browsing the character table of $Fi_{23}$

Restaurant chain Pizza Hut in the US have announced a promotion for “Pi Day” on March 14, involving an unlikely partnership with renowned group-theorist, Life-wrangler and apparent pizza-lover John Conway. (Apparently, pizza and pie are somehow linked in America. It is probably best not to worry about this.)

Featuring on their blog as the inaugural post under the optimistic tags ‘math‘ and ‘John Conway‘, they explain that three maths puzzles set by Conway will be posted on Pi Day, “varying in level of difficulty from high school to Ph.D. level”. Residents of the 48 contiguous US states can leave their answers in the comments when the puzzles are posted, and the winners receive a 3.14-year supply of pizza (or, as the rules clarify, a somewhat more prosaic $1600 Pizza Hut gift card).

Obviously we will have to wait for the questions to be unveiled to be able to judge the appropriate level of excitement for this promotion, but with Conway involved, no maths-is-really-hard nonsense in the blog post, and not a formula for the perfect anything in sight, things are looking promising for a nice bit of harmless maths/poor childhood diet fun.

More information

Pizza Hut partners with mathematician John H. Conway for National Pi Day math contest – the blog post announcing the competition

John Conway on Wikipedia

John Conway on Numberphile!

Numberphile, the supremum over all YouTube channels, has scored a bit of a coup – Brady has sat down and recorded an interview with the famously Internet-reclusive John Conway.

In this first video (there’s a bonus one linked at the end of this one, and I hope there’ll be more) John talks about his love/hate relationship with his Game of Life.

By the way, I notice from the video’s description that the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute is paying for Numberphile these days. Thanks, MSRI!

Life imitates Life

A while ago somebody created a simulation of Conway’s Game of Life inside a bigger version of the Game of Life. Now, YouTube user Phillip Bradbury has created a very simple — and aurally pleasing — video showing it in action.

Apparently this is made possible by the Outer Totalistic Cellular Automata Meta-Pixel (OTCAMP), a “two state programmable unit cell which allows Conway’s Life to simulate any outer totalistic rule. OTCAMP is a meta-cell which is also a meta-pixel. OTCAMP meta-pixels display evolving meta-patterns on-screen in meta-realtime.”

An outer totalistic rule is a rule for a cellular automaton which defines the transitions between cell states based on the total number of switched-on surrounding cells surrounding them. The Game of Life is one such rule.

Source: Richard Elwes on Google+.

John Conway profile

An interview/profile of John Conway has been published at The Daily Princetonian. Conway talks about his life and his methods.

“We’re remarkably free here,” Conway said of his position at Princeton. “Nobody tells me off for playing games. In fact, I’ve made playing games be serious.”

Source: Math and games.