John Forbes Nash Jr. 101: Genius of Game Theory
Zatrun Published at March 31, 2023

John Forbes Nash Jr. was an American mathematician who made fundamental contributions to game theory, geometry, and partial differential equations. Along with game theorists John Harsanyi and Reinhard Selten, Nash won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1994. He was also awarded the Abel Prize in 2015, alongside Louis Nirenberg, for their contributions to the field of partial differential equations. For further information about John Forbes Nash Jr., you can continue reading this article.

Who is John Forbes Nash Jr.?

Born on June 13, 1928, John Forbes Nash Jr. graduated with honours from Carnegie Institute of Technology for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees without ever really studying. He then went to Princeton University to pursue his doctorate, and at the age of 21, his doctoral thesis on “Game Theory” eventually earned him the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1994. The young prodigy solved and made use of problems in game theory, which had been invented by John von Neumann, in his thesis.

By the age of 30, he rapidly rose to become one of the leading names in the field of mathematics due to his brilliant ideas and outstanding personality. It was during his time as a professor at MIT that he met his wife, Alicia Larde, who was then just a physics student. Shortly before Nash’s schizophrenia symptoms began, they had a son together. In addition to his work in mathematics, Nash also worked as a codebreaker for the U.S. military during the Cold War.

Between 1945 and 1996, John Forbes Nash Jr. published 23 scientific studies. He also wrote two books, “Essays on Game Theory” (1996) and “The Essential John Nash.” He demonstrated his versatility in different fields by being one of the creators of two popular games, “Hex” and “So Long Sucker.” He conducted research in mathematics at Princeton. Throughout his life, John Forbes Nash Jr. was obsessed with the number 23 and wrote a total of 23 papers.

His Mental Health Issues

Nash’s first symptoms of schizophrenia appeared in 1958. He had no roommate at the time, but he talked about an imaginary roommate to those around him. These imaginary conversations led to the discovery that he had schizophrenia. In 1959, Nash’s mental illness began to show more clearly. As a result, he spent several years in mental hospitals with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. However, his condition began to improve slowly but surely after 1970. Consequently, he returned to his academic career in the mid-1980s.

Despite his schizophrenia, John Forbes Nash Jr.’s ability to return to academic life was an inspiration for the book “A Beautiful Mind” written by Sylvia Nasar. The book was later adapted into a movie. Due to his schizophrenia, Nash and his wife Alicia divorced in 1963, but they reunited in 1970 and continued to separate and reconcile until Nash won the Nobel Prize in 1994. After the award, the couple resolved their issues. On May 23, 2015, Nash and Alicia died in a car accident.

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