Simon Norton is a mathematician that worked on finite simple groups and co-authored the Atlas of Finite Groups. With John Conway they proved there is a connection with the Monster group and the j-function:monstrous moonshine

There's now a book out titled The Genius in my Basement by Alexander Masters, where he says that Simon Norton stopped doing mathematics after 1985 when John Conway left for America. I find this hard to believe because the book also talks about his immense talent and natural attraction to the subject as a youngster:

  • while still at school, gained a first-class external degree from London university
  • Won gold at the IMO between '67 and '69 and special prizes twice.

Did he continue to produce mathematical papers after 1985?

I suspect the answer is yes, and would love to know what he did after 1985.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Doesn't seem to be true to me. His publication list on MathSciNet (needs university subscription) looks essentially continuous from 1979 up to now and the publications are in very reputable journals. The vast majority of those papers was published in the period 1986-2000. $\endgroup$ – t.b. Sep 11 '11 at 15:08
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Srivatsan: I edited it to remove the subjective words. I think this formulation is now a factual question on mathematics history. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Sep 11 '11 at 16:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @user10389: despite the large amount of press this publication has received in the recent weeks, I think one should still not assume that the average reader would know who Simon Norton (or possibly John Conway) is. It would be a nicer question if you can provide some background material on why we should care about these individuals and their portrayal by investigative journalists, possibly with some appropriately placed links. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Sep 11 '11 at 16:24
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I have voted to close as "non-constructive". It is terrible manners to discuss in a public forum the quality of work of an active member if the community, especially whether his current papers are "not to the same level as in his 20s." $\endgroup$ – Andrés E. Caicedo Sep 11 '11 at 21:14
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I haven't read the book, but I've seen an article which states that Simon Norton hasn't had an academic position since 1985. This is very different from "stopped doing mathematics in 1985". There are people with no academic position who do first-rate mathematics. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Sep 12 '11 at 4:11

For those without access, here's bibliographical information on Math Reviews for Simon Norton since 2000.

MR2500569 (2010f:11062) Norton, Simon P. Moonshine-type functions and the CRM correspondence. Groups and symmetries, 327–342, CRM Proc. Lecture Notes, 47, Amer. Math. Soc., Providence, RI, 2009. (Reviewer: Jannis A. Antoniadis), 11F22 (11F03 11F06 20D08)

MR2130835 (2005k:03108) Norton, S. P. Generalizing surreal numbers. Analyzable functions and applications, 347–354, Contemp. Math., 373, Amer. Math. Soc., Providence, RI, 2005, 03E10 (03E20)

MR1994968 (2004e:20025) Norton, Simon P. Counting nets in the Monster. Groups, combinatorics & geometry (Durham, 2001), 227–232, World Sci. Publ., River Edge, NJ, 2003. (Reviewer: Christopher S. Simons), 20D08 (20D60 20F36)

MR1888424 (2003b:20023) Norton, Simon P.; Wilson, Robert A. Anatomy of the Monster. II. Proc. London Math. Soc. (3) 84 (2002), no. 3, 581–598. (Reviewer: Mohammad-Reza Darafsheh), 20D08 (20E28)

MR1877765 (2002k:20025) Norton, Simon From Moonshine to the Monster. Proceedings on Moonshine and related topics (Montréal, QC, 1999), 163–171, CRM Proc. Lecture Notes, 30, Amer. Math. Soc., Providence, RI, 2001. (Reviewer: Christopher S. Simons), 20D08 (11F22)

MR1877755 (2002k:20024) Glauberman, George; Norton, Simon P. On McKay's connection between the affine E8 diagram and the Monster. Proceedings on Moonshine and related topics (Montréal, QC, 1999), 37–42, CRM Proc. Lecture Notes, 30, Amer. Math. Soc., Providence, RI, 2001. (Reviewer: Christopher S. Simons), 20D08 (20F55)

MR1806215 (2001k:20029) Norton, Simon Computing in the Monster. Computational algebra and number theory (Milwaukee, WI, 1996). J. Symbolic Comput. 31 (2001), no. 1-2, 193–201. (Reviewer: Christopher S. Simons), 20D08 (20B25 20C34 20F55)

MR1662447 (2000b:11077) Conway, J. H.; Sloane, N. J. A. Sphere packings, lattices and groups. Third edition. With additional contributions by E. Bannai, R. E. Borcherds, J. Leech, S. P. Norton, A. M. Odlyzko, R. A. Parker, L. Queen and B. B. Venkov. Grundlehren der Mathematischen Wissenschaften [Fundamental Principles of Mathematical Sciences], 290. Springer-Verlag, New York, 1999. lxxiv+703 pp. ISBN: 0-387-98585-9 (Reviewer: Renaud Coulangeon), 11H31 (05B40 11H06 20D08 52C07 52C17 94B75 94C30)


He was teaching postgraduate students in the year 1987-88; I did Part III in Cambridge that year, where he lectured Reflection Groups. The most interesting subject of all I took that year, and I regret not doing that subject in the final exam.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.