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John Forbes Nash Jr.

1928 - 2015
Early Life
John Forbes Nash Jr. was born on
13 June, 1928, in Bluefield, West
Virginia to John Forbes Nash
and Margaret Virginia Nash. His
father was an electrical engineer
for the Appalachian Electric
Power Company. His mother
worked as a schoolteacher before
she married.
Early Life
Nash attended public school but his parents wanted to give him every
educational opportunity, and so arranged for him to take advanced
mathematics courses at a local community college during his final year of
high school. He attended Carnegie Institute of Technology on a full
George Westinghouse Scholarship, where he initially majored in
chemical engineering but switched to majoring in mathematics at the
advice of his teacher John Lighton Synge. John Forbes Nash Jr. graduated
in 1948 at age 19 with both a degree and masters in mathematics. Nash
then went on to be accepted to Princeton University on another
scholarship, where he pursued further graduate studies in mathematics.
Early life
Nash's adviser and former Carnegie professor Richard Duffin
wrote a letter of recommendation for Nash's entrance to
Princeton stating, "He is a mathematical genius." Nash was also
accepted at Harvard University. However, he considered
Princeton more favorably because of its proximity to his family in
Bluefield. At Princeton, he began work on his equilibrium theory,
later known as the Nash equilibrium.Nash however felt that many
of his maths classes at Princeton would spoil the creativity of his
mind and he never attended them.Instead,he stayed in his dorm
and figured out incredibly complex mathematical situations on his
windows.Eventually Nash brought his solved problems to his
professor who was astonished at the work Nash had completed
Contribution to math
John Nash is known for his contribution to game theory.
Nash and others extended game theory to the case of more
than two players and to games where cooperation between
players occurs,including ganging up on the third player .
This gave a much broader perspective than that set down by
John Von Neumann resulting in a greater understanding of
economic situations.
If a group of players are in Nash equilibrium if each one is
making the best decision possible, taking into account the
decisions of the others in the game as long as the other parties'
decisions remain unchanged.
In 1978, Nash was awarded the John von Neumann Theory
Prize for his discovery of non-cooperative equilibria, now
called Nash Equilibrium. He won the Leroy P. Steele Prize in
In 1994, he received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic
Sciences (along with John Harsanyi and Reinhard Selten) as a
result of his game theory work as a Princeton graduate
Nash received an honorary degree, Doctor of Science and
Technology, from Carnegie Mellon University in 1999, an
honorary degree in economics from the University of Naples
Federico II in 2003, an honorary doctorate in economics from
the University of Antwerp in 2007, an honorary doctorate of
science from the City University of Hong Kong on 2011, and
was keynote speaker at a conference on game theory. He has
also been a guest speaker at a number of world-class events,
such as the Warwick Economics Summit in 2005 held at the
University of Warwick.
Influence on math+society
John Forbes Nash made ground-breaking contributions in
mathematical areas such as games,geometry,topology and
partial differential equations.This establishes his place in
history.Much more striking, though, was the resonance of his
Nash was in Oslo collecting the prestigious Abel Prize,
when others began applying his famous concept of equilibrium
to help address one of society's much more contemporary
problems - supplying electricity cheaply, reliably and
cleanly.Nash equilibrium was a fundamental contribution to
the mathematical theory of non-cooperative games.
Influence on math+Society
Great mathematical ideas have the ability to be useful not only for further
developing maths but for also being used in a wide range of ideas.Nash
equilibrium is an example of this idea.
Crucially, though, the Nash equilibrium offered something truly new -
the ability to analyse situations of conflict and co-operation and produce
predictions about how people will behave.In addition to its obvious range of
applications in politics and economics, the depth of the idea is illustrated by
the use of the idea at the secret US Cold War think tank at the RAND
corporation.The game theory idea established by Nash was used as a
promising secret weapon against the Soviet Union.Nash’s other mathematical
ideas should not be underestimated.
Later life
John Nash was appointed as a professor at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology but his teaching habits were very
unusual and quite unpopular with students.He met Eleanor
Stier and they had a son, John David Stier.John didn’t wish to
marry Eleanor. One of Nash's students at MIT, Alicia Larde,
became friendly with him and by the summer of 1955 they
were seeing each other regularly.After three years Eleanor
found out about the affair and she fled with her son.
Soon, John began to become effected by mental illness and
as a result he missed out on the chance of winning the Field
Later life
Soon John was sent to McLean Hospital by
Alicia but the moment he was released the two
fled to Princeton.John’s condition
worsened,transforming him into a frightening
figure.He spent most of his time hanging
around on the Princeton campus, talking about
himself in the third person as Johann von
Nassau, writing nonsensical postcards and
making phone calls to former colleagues. They
listened to his endless discussions of
numerology and world political affairs. Alicia’s
husband's worsening condition made her
become more and more depressed.
Later life
In January 1961 John's mother, and his sister Martha made the difficult
decision to commit him to Trenton State Hospital in New Jersey where
he endured insulin-coma therapy, an aggressive and risky treatment,
five days a week for a month and a half. A long sad episode followed
which included periods of hospital treatment, temporary recovery, then
further treatment.Alicia divorced Nash in 1962. Nash spent a while with
Eleanor and John David. In 1970 Alicia tried to help him taking him in
as a boarder, but he appeared to be lost to the world, removed from
ordinary society, although he spent much of his time in the
Mathematics Department at Princeton.Slowly over many years Nash
recovered. He delivered a paper at the tenth World Congress of
Psychiatry in 1996 describing his illness.Despite spending periods in
hospital because of his mental condition, his mathematical work
continued to have success after success
Later life
In the 1990s Nash made a recovery from the
schizophrenia from which he had suffered since
1959. His ability to produce mathematics of the
highest quality did not totally leave him.Soon
Nash won a series of prizes for his achievements
in mathematics.A few days after picking up the
prize in Norway, Nash and his wife Alicia were
killed in an accident in their taxi on the New
Jersey turnpike.
‘A Beautiful mind ‘
The film ‘A Beautiful Mind’ is made in memory
of John Forbes Nash.This film highlights the
determination of this man to make a difference
in mathematics.It shows how he was too
intelligent for class,how he solved sums that
had never been attempted before and how his
commitment to help his country fight against
the Soviet Union (using his math) cost him his
mind.The pressure that the Cold War think tank
RAND put on this man was too much for him to
cope with and this caused him to develop
mental disease.

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