John Forbes Nash Jr.: Mathematician and Modern Genius

John Forbes Nash, Jr. will go down in history as a Math God of his time. His contributions to game theory, differential geometry, and the study of the partial differential equations paved a clear way for future mathematicians. He provided keen insight into the factors that govern chance and decision-making inside complex systems that we use in everyday life. It is because of Nash that today, we have a clear understanding of how to apply certain theories in math.

He’s the answer to that pupil who raises his hand and annoyingly asks “Why do we even need math?!”

He earned a Ph.D. in 1950 with his dissertation on non-cooperative games. The Nash embedding theorem is also one of his infamous contributions to math and his contributions to the theory of nonlinear parabolic partial differential equations and singularity theory. 

Nash served as the Senior Research Mathematician at Princeton during the later parts of his life. In 1994 he was the recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and recipient of the Abel Prize for his work on nonlinear partial differential equations. He is the only person to have ever received both words. 

Nash grew up in West Virginia living with a father who worked as an engineer and a mother who served as a school teacher. His parents got him involved in advanced math courses at local community colleges during his final year of highs school. He later attended Carnegie Institute of Technology majoring in chemical engineering. Later on he graduated in 1948 at the young age of 19 with a B.S. and M.S. in mathematics. 

Ten years go by and in 1959, Nash began to display signs of mental illness and was treated for paranoid schizophrenia. His continued improved but the illness continued. This was actually vividly illustrated in the biography by Sylvia Nasar titled, A Beautiful Mind; later on becoming a film starring Russell Crowe as Nash. Nash later passed away in 2015 leaving behind two sons and a longstanding understanding of mathematics. 

Credits: The image pictured in this article is from Wikipedia.