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Lewis (Looy) Simonoff (1928-2011)

Professor Emeritus
Faculty: 1970-1999


As a lecturer and acting chair of the department, Lewis (Looy) Simonoff joined UNLV – then NSU – in the fall of 1966 to teach graduate level and advanced undergraduate level mathematics courses for local students in the Las Vegas metropolitan area who were planning to graduate from the University of Nevada in Reno. He helped initiate the master’s degree program at NSU in1968 by appropriately developing the needed advance level courses for the program.

Siminoff regularly taught graduate courses and upper division courses open for graduate credit in algebra, foundations, analysis, and topology. His deep rooted knowledge in several areas of mathematics and successful teaching of graduate and upper division courses was considered equivalent to a Ph.D. degree in mathematics and subsequently that earned him promotion to the rank of associate professor of mathematics.

In the early years, when students graduating from local high schools were fleeing to other states for their university education, Simonoff initiated and continued giving pep talks about mathematics and mathematics curriculum at NSU (UNLV) at their mathematics club in the local and neighboring high schools in Clark County.

To keep himself updated in his field and in general areas related to mathematics education, he attended local, regional, national, and international seminars. These seminars include the Logic Seminar given at Cambridge in England in the summer of 1971 and many others given at the regional and national meetings of the American Mathematical Society (AMS). He has also presented a talk at a meeting of the AMS. He has published in monthly and in abstracts of papers published by AMS and continued as a member of the professional organization.

Simonoff generously served on many departmental, college, and university committees with painstaking care from 1966-2000. Being a patron of close-up magic and well versed in mathematics gave him deep insight into the application of the mathematical theory of games into the acts of close-up magic where he finds fascinating the applicability of the group of permutations on n-symbols. Simonoff terms this interrelation “Mathemagic” and has several publications to his credit in local, regional, and national magic journals such as Magic Manuscripts published in New York, and a nationally known local Las Vegas publication “Magic”.

He taught several courses in close-up magic given at UNLV through continuing education. Based on an interview regarding these courses, columnist John Smith of the Las Vegas Review-Journal published an article that later appeared in a book of several articles published by the same author. Simonoff also appeared on radio and television, including one released for showing in Europe regarding “Mathemagic” and “Close-up Magic Shows in Las Vegas”. He served as a consultant for a book entitled Magic for Dummies. Simonoff has contributed in and has edited books by well known authors in this field such as Paul Harris and Allen Ackerman.