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John Nash

John Nash

Early Life

John Forbes Nash, an American mathematician was born on 13th June, 1928 in Bluefield, West Virginia. He did massive work in many branches of mathematics and his theories have proven to be very useful in numerous fields such as market economics, computing, biology, artificial intelligence, politics and accounting. Both his parents were educated and so wanted the same for their son. They provided Nash every opportunity to help him gain the best education. They encouraged him to take mathematical courses at a college while he was still in high school. He got a scholarship to Carnegie Institute of Technology (present day known as Carnegie Mellon University). He graduated with a Master degree within three years.

Mathematical Work

After his graduation from Carnegie, his professor described Nash using a single sentence in his letter of recommendation, ‘This man is a genius’. He was therefore accepted at Harvard University however when he was offered the John S. Kennedy fellowship from Princeton, Nash knew what to choose. His years at Princeton proved to be highly productive and he achieved a doctorate in 1950. He wrote many papers including one on the equilibrium theory which later became known commonly as the ‘Nash Equilibrium’. This study resulted in many articles all based on equilibrium theory and ‘non cooperating games’ and ‘two person cooperative games’. Other work by Nash is ‘Nash embedding theorem’ and his theory on nonlinear parabolic partial differential equations and also the singularity theory.

Personal Life

When John Nash was visiting the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1951 as instructor for the faculty, he met Alicia Lopez-Harrison de Larde who was a physics student. This rendezvous turned into a marriage in 1957. Soon afterwards Nash was admitted to the hospital for treatment of his schizophrenia. His son was born while he was in the hospital but his mother did not give him a name so that Nash could have an equal say in the matter. The marriage ended in 1963 with a divorce however they got married again in 2001.

Nash’s schizophrenia started somewhere during 1957. His behavior was explained by his wife as unpredictable. He would talk about characters that didn’t exist and feared that all those men with red ties were against him in a conspiracy. He went as far as writing letters to D.C that those men were to form a government. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by the doctors of McLean hospital in May 1959. Consequently Nash resigned from his post at MIT, withdrawing his pension and went to Europe. After a disturbing chain of events with him getting arrested by the police in Paris he was sent back to the United States. He took treatment from many hospitals where he got antipsychotic medicines.

Later Life

Nash was known as ‘The Phantom of Fine Hall’ at Princeton. He was awarded with the John von Neumann Theory Prize in 1978 and the Leroy P. Steele Prize in 1999. He also received honorary degrees from Carnegie Mellon (1999), University of Antwerp (2007) and University of Naples Federico II (2003). He got the Nobel Prize in Economic Science for his game theory.


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