As the world mourns of his recent tragic car crash, will the world be a sadder place without mathematician Dr. John Nash?
By: Ringo Bones
He’s probably more famous to the world at large via the 2001 movie A Beautiful Mind as he’s portrayed by actor Russell Crowe than by his works on game theory during the height of the Cold War and his being a 1994 Nobel Economics Prize laureate, but back in Saturday, May 23, 2015, mathematician Dr. John Nash together with his wife Alicia tragically dies in a car crash in the New Jersey Turnpike. The whole world – and not just the mathematicians’ corner – will be a sadder place without him.
His work on noncooperative games, published in 1950 and known as the Nash equilibrium is considered as his most influential work of the 20th Century. It provided a conceptually simple but powerful mathematical tool for analyzing a wide range of competitive situations, from cooperative rivalries to legislative decision making. His theories are used in economics, computing, evolutionary biology, artificial intelligence, accounting, politics and military theory. Dr. Nash also made contributions to pure mathematics that many mathematicians view as more significant than his Nobel-winning work on game theory, including solving an intractable problem in differential geometry derived from the work of the 19th century mathematician G.F.B. Riemann. His achievements were more remarkable, colleagues say, for being contained in a small handful of papers published before he was 30.
Given his lifelong struggle with depression and paranoid schizophrenia, it is quite remarkable feat indeed that Dr. Nash managed to communicate his mathematical brilliance to the whole world and managed to get recognition for it – the 1994 Nobel Economics Prize and a fitting multi-Academy Award winning biopic, A Beautiful Mind, back in 2001. Looks like Russell Crowe’s Tweet back in Sunday, May 24, 2015 is indeed both a touching and fitting tribute of Dr. Nash’s mathematical legacy.