John Forbes Nash, Jr.

Nash, John Forbes, Jr., 1928–, 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 both non-cooperative game theory and to bargaining theory. He began to experience what he termed "mental disturbances" in 1959 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. 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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