Nobel Prize mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. (June 13, 1928-May 23, 2015) was born in Bluefield. Nash excelled in mathematics at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University) before entering the doctoral program at Princeton University in 1948. Inspired by professor John von Neumann, who contributed to the development of the computer and the hydrogen bomb, Nash focused on game theory, a theoretical approach to rivalries. His doctoral thesis greatly affected economics in that it demonstrated how game theory could be applied to business competition. ‘‘It wasn’t until Nash that game theory came alive for economists,’’ Robert Solow, Nobel laureate in economics from MIT, said.
After a brief stint as a consultant with the Rand Corporation, Nash became a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1959, Nash was hospitalized for schizophrenia, abruptly ending his teaching career. He isolated himself for more than 20 years, unable to teach or do mathematics, until the effects of the disease abated in the 1980s. Colleagues rallied to revive Nash’s reputation and lobbied the Nobel Prize Committee to recognize him as one of the fathers of new mathematics. In 1994, Nash was honored with the Nobel Prize in Economics for his 1950 doctoral dissertation. In 1998, Nash was the subject of a best-selling biography, A Beautiful Mind, which was later made into a movie.
In 2015, Nash and his wife, Alicia, were killed in an automobile accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. He was 86.
This Article was written by Stan Bumgardner
Last Revised on December 08, 2015
Nasar, Sylvia. A Beautiful Mind. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.
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Bumgardner, Stan "John Forbes Nash Jr.." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 08 December 2015. Web. 25 February 2017.