American mathematician John Nash: biography, achievements and interesting facts

The Nobel laureate and just a very strong-minded person, John Nash is a scientist who formulated the foundations of the method, which had a significant impact on the modern world economy. He received his main award for his work on game theory, which he published at the age of 21. But Nash's genius coexisted with the symptoms of schizophrenia, and, unfortunately, in a life full of sharp turns, there was no way for a quiet death in the circle of relatives.

years of life john nash

The last chapter in the biography

Three years ago, on May 23, 2015, in the city of Monroe (Gloucester county, the US state of New Jersey) there was a car accident with human victims. The taxi driver, having driven into the oncoming lane for overtaking, lost control, a collision occurred.

The culprit of the accident was taken to hospital. He survived because he suffered minor injuries.But two passengers who did not buckle up were thrown out of the cabin. Doctors who arrived at the scene of a traffic accident, stated the death of both men and women.

The dead were mathematician John Nash and his wife Alicia. The Nobel laureate died in the 87th year of life, and his spouse - at the age of 82 years. Such was the death of the genius scientist, whose life was full of dramatic turns.

From hate to lifelong business

John Forbes Nash Jr. was born on June 13, 1928 in the city of Bluefield, West Virginia. His father was an electrical engineer, and his mother, who had worked as a school teacher before her marriage for 10 years, was now in the household. The Nash family strictly adhered to Protestantism.

Little John was an ordinary child, showing no signs that in a couple of decades he would receive the Nobel Prize in economics. The boy preferred the lessons to active games, he studied moderately, did not like exact sciences, and especially mathematics. The teacher literally inspired his student aversion to the subject being studied.

John Nash Jr.

At 14, the book The Creators of Mathematics by Eric T fell into the hands of John Nash.Bella is a mathematician and author of science fiction books. The teenager is incredibly fascinated by reading. After reading the book, he alone was able to prove the Fermat theorem. Nash will later write about this interesting fact in his autobiography.

After school, the young man went to study at the Polytechnic Institute (now it is a private educational institution - Carnegie Mellon University). There, he absolutely did not consider mathematics as his vocation, but initially studied chemistry and the international economy. Only after John Nash decided to do mathematics, as it was closest to him.

In 1947, nineteen-year-old Nash Jr. graduated from the university, receiving a bachelor’s and master’s degree at the same time. The reference letter from his manager spoke for itself. Richard Duffin wrote that "John Nash is a genius of mathematics."

“He is the genius of mathematics”

After graduating from the Carnegie Institute, a young scientist entered Princeton University. It was there that he first heard information about the theory of games that struck his imagination. In his twenty years, he formulated the basis of the method, which later played an important role in the global economy.

In 1949, Nash published a dissertation on game theory.John Nash found the business of his life. In five years, it is for this work that he will receive his most important award, the Nobel Prize. Officially, the award was awarded "for a fundamental analysis of equilibrium in game theory."

mathematician john nash

During 1950-1953, the scientist published four more works in the field of zero-sum games. They all became revolutionary. He discovered the possibility of a state of equilibrium, with all parties using a strategy that leads to equilibrium. In the future, this result was called the Nash equilibrium.

In the 51st, John Nash began working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (better known as MIT). At this time he wrote several works on the theory of varieties and algebraic geometry, which were highly appreciated by his contemporaries. He is the author of the book "The Problem of Trading" and "Non-cooperative games."

Colleagues recognized the uniqueness of knowledge of John Nash, but in the team did not like him. The young scientist was a genius, but he seemed to be a closed, unsociable, moody, selfish, and arrogant person. But these are not his nature traits from nature, but signs of an approaching illness.

Another reason for the alienation of colleagues was that his work proved with mathematical methods the loyalty of the theory of Karl Marx. Here we are talking about the theory of surplus value. But these were the times of the “witch hunt”, when such communist sentiments threatened not only a loss of work, but also criminal prosecution.

At the same time, John Nash had problems in his personal life, but more on that below.

A little bit about game theory

Not all readers understand mathematical theories, so a brief explanation does not hurt. Game theory refers to the method of studying optimal strategies in processes involving two or more parties fighting for the realization of their interests. This theory allows you to choose the best strategy, that is, the one that will lead to the gain.

john nash nobel laureate

Methods for studying strategies in games most often find their application in economics, and more rarely in sociology, ethics, psychology, political science, jurisprudence, and other sciences. Beginning in the seventies, it was also adopted by biologists who studied animal behavior and the theory of evolution.

Of exceptional importance is the theory of John Nash for cybernetics, artificial intelligence and modern technology.During the Second World War and after it, the military was interested in theory, who saw in it a way to study strategic decisions.

Personal life of an outstanding scientist

In 1951, John was thrown by his girlfriend, nurse Eleanor Stier (according to another version - Stier, Stier). It is not known why this happened. There is an opinion that the girl could not stand the arrogant attitude of her lover (it soon turned out that he was sick), and someone said that Eleanor was frightened by the authorities for “Communist” Nash research.

Whatever the real reason for the break, it’s only known that Stear was expecting a child at that time. John Nash son did not give his last name. In the future, he did not financially support the mother of John David Stier (Stayer).

The heroine of the new novel by John Forbes Nash Jr. became Alicia Lard students. The girl was not stopped by the strangeness of the scientist, and already in 1957 they officially became spouses. Life has improved. Alicia was waiting for her first child, and popular science publications called John Nash Jr. "the rising star of American science." But oddities in the behavior of men increased.

John Nash and his wife

Voices in the head and "secret information"

The scientist heard voices that no one else heard, he began to mention some kind of "conspiracy against America" ​​and "secret information." The mathematician began to show signs of mental disorder. Alicia, a 26-year-old woman in the last months of pregnancy, sought to help her husband overcome schizophrenia, but John’s behavior was very difficult to control.

In 1959, the researcher was dismissed. Everything flew down the slope. Nash was hospitalized at a clinic where he was injected with strong drugs for almost two months. But the pharmacological effect only aggravated the condition of John Nash.

Princeton Phantom

Then Nash decided to go to Europe. Alicia left her son to relatives, having gone for her husband. John sought political asylum in several European countries, but was refused everywhere, as the Europeans were worried about his state of health, and even the US authorities put pressure. They did not want the genius out of their sphere of influence.

Nash was arrested and forcibly sent to America. There, the state of the scientist has once again deteriorated. His notes resembled incoherent nonsense, and not studies of the genius of mathematics.Yesterday's colleagues listened to John’s ideas only out of compassion.

In 1961, he was again placed in a psychiatric clinic. After being discharged from the hospital, Nash again went to Europe, this time Alicia stayed at home. The wife of the scientist divorced. She began to raise their common son alone. By the way, he will be given talent for mathematics and schizophrenia from his father.

For a while, Nash returned to normal (relatively) life, but a new deterioration followed. At the beginning of the seventies, only a man in old clothes remained from a genius scientist, who sometimes could not find a place to sleep. Saved by his ex-wife. Alicia took John back and helped him, and in 2011 they married again.

For many years, students at Princeton University called the future Nobel laureate John Nash the Phantom. He received such a nickname, because more than once he suddenly appeared in his offices and wrote down formulas on the blackboard, the meaning of which was clear only to him alone.

john nash books

Thoughts of genius mathematics

In the early eighties, John Nash, as a promising scholar, began to be forgotten, but just then something happened that no one had expected.His notes and speech became meaningful again, and the formulas were not a delusion of the mentally ill, but the thoughts of a brilliant mathematician. Doctors could not explain this, but Nash won the battle with schizophrenia. He simply began to ignore the voices in his head, and they gradually disappeared.

John Nash quickly returned to the level in science that he had before the disease. In 1994, the scientist was awarded the Nobel Prize. She was awarded the work created in 1949. The Nobel lecture, by the way, was not given to Nash. This interesting fact was explained by the organizers. They simply feared that Nash's health would affect the performance and something would go wrong.

"Beautiful mind" S. Nazar

Four years after the Nobel Prize was awarded to Nash, Silvia Nazar wrote a biography of the scientist. The piece was called “Beautiful Mind: The Life of the Genius of Mathematics and Nobel Laureate John Nash”. The book sold well and attracted many Hollywood producers.

The film "Mind Games"

In 2001, a film based on the book by Sylvia Nazar was released. John Nash played Russell Crowe in it. With a budget of 58 million US dollars, the picture gathered at the box office 313 million. It was a smashing success.In addition, the Mind Games were awarded four Oscars. Of course, the cinematographic history was different from the real one, but this did not prevent Nash from becoming popular not only in scientific circles, but also among the broad masses of the population. This film is worth seeing not only for those who are interested in the science and personality of this scientist, but also for educational purposes.

shot from the mind game movie

Nobel and Abel Prizes

Interesting fact: John Nash became the first person in the world of science who is also the winner of the Nobel Prize and the Abel Prize. Abelian established the Government of Norway as an analogue of the Prize to them. Nobel for mathematicians. This triumph was an excellent last step in Nash's scientific career.

Some sayings of Nash

The biography of John Nash is an interesting story, some of his sayings will help you fully understand it. For example, about the future:

I do not know what future awaits me. Even if I do not have much left. Of course, in general, the future is infinite, unless something bad happens or a miracle happens.

About tasks and solutions:

The problem is solved at the moment when it is set.

Touching words about love that may have become a confession of John to his wife Alicia:

I am here today only because of you. You are the only reason for my presence. You are all my reasons.

A short dialogue about science, love and faith:

- Tell me, is the universe big?

- Endless ...

- How do you know?

- All the data indicate this.

- But this is not proven, you did not see it yourself? Why are you sure?

- I'm not sure, I believe.

- With love in the same way ...

About mathematics as art and its attitude to biologists:

Mathematics is a very specific science, it is a special kind of art, no matter what you say around, especially those who are engaged in biology.

About questions and answers, the nature of genius:

Geniuses will know the answer earlier than the question.

The death of the great mathematics was a tragedy for science. During his long, but still prematurely ended life, he managed to do a lot. Perhaps if it were not for the disease, Nash could formulate even more important scientific theories, laws, and develop several additional techniques. But there is also the likelihood that it was precisely because of such a destructive predisposition to schizophrenia that he became the genius of mathematics. This is a fine line. One can only hope that the history of modernity will recognize more than one equally talented scientist,but with a calmer fate.

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