Saturday, June 14, 2008

John Forbes Nash

John Forbes Nash junior was born 80 years ago, on 13 June 1928, in the small town of Bluefield, West Virginia. His father worked as an electrical engineer and his mother was trained as a teacher. Nash attended high school, but took little part in normal schoolboy life. In 1945, he went to the technical college in Pittsburgh now known as Carnegie Mellon University. There he initially studied chemistry, but switched to mathematics and won a scholarship in 1948 to attend an elite east coast university Within two years after joining Princeton University mathematics department,Nash completed his dissertation (PDF) on game theory, in which he presented concept of a non-cooperative game and the optimal strategy subsequently named after him, the Nash equilibrium.One popular example of such a game is the "Battle of the Sexes". A man and a woman at different points in a city want to spend the evening together. Their mobile phones are out of order, so they can only set off with the guidance of common sense, hoping of course to find each other at the venue. They can choose either a football match, which the man prefers, or a concert, the woman's preference.while at Princeton the young mathematician also developed the Nash bargaining solution and invented the Nash embedding theorem.In 1957 he married Alicia Larde, a student from an upper middle-class family originating in El Salvador. In 1951 he began teaching at MIT in Boston, where among other things he solved Hilbert's 19th problem.Nash began to show signs of schizophrenia in 1958.After three decades, Nash succeeded in shaking off his illness. At the same time, the increasing popularity of game theory was drawing the attention of specialists to his 1994, together with John Harsanyi and Reinhard Selten, John Nash won the Nobel prize for economics.

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