MAA Writing Awards
The Search for Finite Simple Groups
Year of Award:1977
Publication Information:Mathematics Magazine, Vol 49, (1976), pp. 163-180
Summary:The eighty year quest for the building blocks of group theory reflects sporadic growth spurts whenever new basic techniques were discovered.
About the author:(from Mathematics Magazine, Vol. 49 (1976)) Joseph A. Gallian holds a Ph.D. from Notre Dame and now teaches at the University of Minnesota at Duluth. His investigation of the range problem for simple groups began in 1972 when he selected as a problem suitable for investigation by an undergraduate research team the question of determining which integers between 1 and 500 could be orders of simple groups. An extensive literature search together with personal conversations, especially with participants of the Park City Conference on Finite Groups in 1975, provided sufficient information to complete the history of the range problem through order 1,000,000. Professor Gallian's interest in bringing group theory to a college audience has also produced "Computers in Group Theory" and "Group Theory and the Design of a Letter Facing Machine".