*The New York Times* John Conway obituary.

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As a student, Dr. Conway cultivated his acknowledged lifelong preference for being lazy, playing games and doing no work. He could be easily distracted by what he called “nerdish delights.” He once went on a flexagon binge, courtesy of Mr. Gardner, who described flexagons as “polygons, folded from straight or crooked strips of paper, which have the fascinating property of changing their faces when they are flexed.”

He built a water-powered computer, which he called Winnie (Water Initiated Nonchalantly Numerical Integrating Engine). He read and annotated H.S.M. Coxeter’s edition of W.W. Rouse Ball’s classic work, “Mathematical Recreations and Essays,” and wrote Coxeter a lengthy letter that started a lifelong friendship between these two classical geometers.

Hired at Cambridge as an assistant lecturer, Dr. Conway gained a reputation for his high jinks (not to mention his disheveled appearance). Lecturing on symmetry and the Platonic solids, he might bring in a turnip as a prop, carving it one slice at a time into, say, an icosahedron, with its 20 triangular faces, eating the scraps as he went. “He was by far the most charismatic lecturer in the faculty,” his Cambridge colleague Peter Swinnerton-Dyer once said.

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