Nash, John Forbes, Jr.

Nash, John Forbes, Jr., 1928–2015, American mathematician, b. Bluefield, W.Va., grad. Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon Univ., B.A. and M.A. 1948), Ph.D. Princeton 1950. During a five-year period, beginning with his doctoral thesis in 1949, he established the mathematical principles of modern game theory (see games, theory of). In four papers published between 1950–53 he made seminal contributions to game theory and to bargaining theory, which led to a revolution in economic theory. Nash also made significant contributions to mathematics, including the Nash embedding theorems and work on elliptic partial differential equations and parabolic nonlinear partial differential equations. In 1959 he began to experience what he termed “mental disturbances” and remained in seclusion for the next 30 years, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, which he blamed on the mental effort expended in resolving contradictions in quantum theory. Nash returned to his academic research once the disease was in remission, and for his landmark work on the mathematics of game theory he shared the 1994 Nobel memorial economics prize with Hungarian-American economist John Harsanyi and German mathematician and economist Reinhard Selten. In 2015 he shared the Abel Prize (in mathematics) with Louis Nirenberg for their work on nonlinear partial differential equations. Nash wrote Essays on Game Theory (1997).

See biography by S. Nasar (1998); H. W. Kuhn, ed., A Celebration of John F. Nash, Jr, (1996).

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