Most of you who had the opportunity to meet Chris, knew him for his sense of humour and his dedication to our friends. Most of you never really knew of his scholastic capabilities.
Chris was a child prodigy, entering high school at 10 years of age. While he excelled in almost every subject, his real strenghts were mathematics and computers. Part of his memorial in the UTS Alumnus magazine reads:
A UTS graduate, Class of 1980, Chris’s remarkable talents began to show at the age of two: he learned the alphabet in two days, followed by phonics in a week, and was reading by age three. At age six, he could multiply up to eight-digit numbers in his head in a very short time, and had the distinction of beating a Grand Master Chess champion who was playing about 20 games at the same time.
Chris entered UTS at age ten. He was a founding member of the UTS “Pi and Other Mathematical Constant Memorization Club”, which required memorization of the first 50 decimal digits of Pi; always an overachiever, Chris went on to memorize Pi to 3,000 digits. One of his close friends, John Chew ’81, remembers that Chris “was always finding cool math ideas and toys, and pushing us to do our very best to beat him.” One of these was “The Brain”: a clear plastic cylindrical puzzle with eight black control rods. “In order to unlock it,” John recalls, “you had to be able to move the rods in a particular sequence of 128 moves – which Chris had memorized and could do in about ten seconds, though it made you dizzy to watch. That sequence is based on the Gray binary code, which has proven to be very useful to me professionally; every time I use it, I think of Chris and The Brain.”
Chris had a lifelong love for these kinds of puzzles. In fact, Chris could look at the status of any Rubik’s cube and then complete it blindfolded or behind his back in double-quick time; he often entertained children with tricks like this.
Chris accepted the Rene Descartes scholarship award from University of Waterloo; after two years, he left university to earn a living doing computer programming.
Chris classmates have decided to create a Scholarship in Computer Sciences and Mathematics in his name at the school. It will be a perpetual endowment. If you are interested in more information I have summarized the information I received at www.ChristopherShaw.com