Stephen Hawking passed away earlier this morning in Cambridge, England. As a brilliant theoretical physicist and best-selling author all while dealing with a debilitating disease, Hawking rose to be the best-known scientist of his time.

I'll leave it to the physics blogs to talk about his research. Hawking inspired me through his 1988 book,

So you read the book and he manages to describe his highly mathematical-based view of the universe without resorting to mathematics, by far the best written popular science book I have read.

A poll taken last year showed most Americans could not name a single living scientist but among the 19% that could, the scientist they named most often was Stephen Hawking. We lost not only a brilliant physicist but one of the great symbols for science of our generation.

*A Brief History of Time*. Hawking told Time magazine before the magazine's publication "Someone told me that each equation I included in the book would halve the sales. In the end, however, I did put in Einstein’s famous equation E = mc^{2}. I hope that this will not scare off half my potential readers.”So you read the book and he manages to describe his highly mathematical-based view of the universe without resorting to mathematics, by far the best written popular science book I have read.

*A Brief History of Time*came out when I was in grad school so it didn't play a role in me becoming an academic but it did make me realize that science has a story to tell. From the preface of my own book.I took inspiration from Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, which explains physics not through formulas and technicalities but with examples and stories. I attempt to do the same here to explore the spirit and importance of the P versus NP problem.I am under no illusion that I came even close to Hawking's level of exposition.

A poll taken last year showed most Americans could not name a single living scientist but among the 19% that could, the scientist they named most often was Stephen Hawking. We lost not only a brilliant physicist but one of the great symbols for science of our generation.