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Simon Phillips Norton (28 February 1952 – 14 February 2019)[1] was a mathematician in Cambridge, England, who worked on finite simple groups.

Simon P. Norton
Born(1952-02-28)28 February 1952
Died14 February 2019(2019-02-14) (aged 66)
NationalityBritish
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
Scientific career
FieldsMathematics
ThesisF and Other Simple Groups (1976)
Doctoral advisorJohn Horton Conway

Contents

EducationEdit

Simon Norton was born into a Sephardi family of Iraqi descent, the youngest of three brothers.[2]

From 1964 he was a King's Scholar at Eton College. Even in that intellectual hothouse, he earned a reputation as an eccentric mathematical genius. He obtained an external first-class degree in Pure Mathematics at the University of London while still at the school, commuting to Royal Holloway College.

He also represented the United Kingdom three years running at the International Mathematical Olympiad.

He then went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, and comfortably achieved a first in the final examinations.

CareerEdit

He stayed at Cambridge, working on finite groups. Norton was one of the authors of the ATLAS of Finite Groups. He constructed the Harada–Norton group and in 1979 together with John Conway proved there is a connection between the Monster group and the j-function in number theory. They dubbed this "monstrous moonshine", and made some conjectures later proved by Richard Borcherds. Norton also made several early discoveries in Conway's Game of Life,[3] and invented the game Snort.

In 1985, Cambridge University failed to renew his contract.

Norton is the subject of the biography The Genius In My Basement, written by his Cambridge tenant, Alexander Masters,[4] which describes his eccentric lifestyle and his life-long obsession with buses. He was also an occasional contributor to Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics.

Norton was very interested in transport issues and was a member of Subterranea Britannica. He collapsed and died in north London, aged 66, of a heart condition on 14 February 2019.[1]

Selected publicationsEdit

  • with C. J. Cummins: "Rational Hauptmoduls are replicable". Canadian Journal of Mathematics. 47 (6): 1201–1218. 1995. doi:10.4153/cjm-1995-061-1.
  • "Non-monstrous moonshine". Groups, Difference Sets, and the Monster: Proceedings of a Special Research Quarter at The Ohio State University, Spring 1993. 1996. pp. 433–441.
  • Free transposition groups. Communications in Algebra. 24. 1996. pp. 425–432. doi:10.1080/00927879608825578.
  • "Anatomy of the Monster: I". The Atlas of Finite Groups: Ten Years On. London Mathematical Society Lecture Note Series, 249. 1998. pp. 198–214.
  • "Computing in the Monster". Journal of Symbolic Computation. 31 (1–2): 193–201. 2001. doi:10.1006/jsco.1999.1008.
  • with Robert A. Wilson: "Anatomy of the Monster: II". Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society. 84 (3): 581–598. 2002. doi:10.1112/S0024611502013357.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b [1] Obituary: Daily Telegraph
  2. ^ Tessler, Gloria (28 March 2019). "Obituary: Simon Norton". The Jewish Chronicle.
  3. ^ Poundstone, William (1985), The recursive universe: cosmic complexity and the limits of scientific knowledge, Contemporary Books, p. 7, ISBN 978-0-8092-5202-2
  4. ^ Masters, Alexander (1 September 2011), The Genius in My Basement, London: HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0-00-724338-9, LCCN 2011535364, OCLC 739420610

External linksEdit