John Forbes Nash
John Forbes Nash, Jr. (born June 13, 1928) is an American mathematician, who shared the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with game theorists Reinhard Selten and John Harsanyi. His works in game theory, differential geometry, and partial differential equations have provided insight into the factors that govern chance and events inside complex systems in daily life. His theories are used in market economics, computing, evolutionary biology, artificial intelligence, accounting, politics and military theory.
- See also: A Beautiful Mind
- I would not dare to say that there is a direct relation between mathematics and madness, but there is no doubt that great mathematicians suffer from maniacal characteristics, delirium and symptoms of schizophrenia.
- John Nash (1996), quoted in: Karl Sabbagh (2003) Dr. Riemann's zeros, p. 88
- People are always selling the idea that people with mental illness are suffering. I think madness can be an escape. If things are not so good, you maybe want to imagine something better. In madness, I thought I was the most important person in the world.
- John Nash in: "[A Brilliant Madness A Beautiful Madness," PBS TV program, 2002; Cited in: René J. Muller, Doing Psychiatry Wrong: A Critical and Prescriptive Look at a Faltering Profession. Routledge, (2013), p. 62
"Autobiographical essay," 1994
- "Autobiographical essay" in Les Prix Nobel - The Nobel Prizes 1994 (1995) edited by Tore Frängsmyr
- By the time I was a student in high school I was reading the classic Men of Mathematics by E. T. Bell and I remember succeeding in proving the classic Fermat theorem about an integer multiplied by itself p times where p is a prime.
- As a graduate student I studied mathematics fairly broadly and I was fortunate enough, besides developing the idea which led to "Non-Cooperative Games," also to make a nice discovery relating to manifolds and real algebraic varieties. So I was prepared actually for the possibility that the game theory work would not be regarded as acceptable as a thesis in the mathematics department and then that I could realize the objective of a Ph. D. thesis with the other results.
- Gradually I began to intellectually reject some of the delusionally influenced lines of thinking which had been characteristic of my orientation. This began, most recognizably, with the rejection of politically-oriented thinking as essentially a hopeless waste of intellectual effort.
- At the present time I seem to be thinking rationally again in the style that is characteristic of scientists. However this is not entirely a matter of joy as if someone returned from physical disability to good physical health. One aspect of this is that rationality of thought imposes a limit on a person's concept of his relation to the cosmos.
- Statistically, it would seem improbable that any mathematician or scientist, at the age of 66, would be able through continued research efforts, to add much to his or her previous achievements. However I am still making the effort and it is conceivable that with the gap period of about 25 years of partially deluded thinking providing a sort of vacation my situation may be atypical. Thus I have hopes of being able to achieve something of value through my current studies or with any new ideas that come in the future.
Quotes about John Nash
- He was always full of mathematical ideas, not only on game theory, but in geometry and topology as well. However, my most vivid memory of this time is of the many games which were played in the common room. I was introduced to Go and Kriegspiel, and also to an ingenious topological game which we called Nash in honor of the inventor.
- John Milnor, "A Nobel prize for John Nash," The Mathematical Intelligencer 17 (3) (1995), 11-17: Milnor described what Nash was like late 1940s, when Milnor was also a Princeton undergraduate.
- Autobiographical essay at the official Nobel site
- John Forbes Nash at the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive
- Video of Dr. Sylvia Nasar narrating the story of John Nash at MIT