John Nash, the brilliant and famed mathematician whose theories have been used in everything from evolutionary biology to accounting and computer science, died in a car crash over the weekend in New Jersey. His wife of almost 60 years, Alicia Nash, was also killed in the accident.
Nash was best known to the public as the focus of the 2001 Oscar-winning film "A Beautiful Mind" starring Russell Crowe. The movie covered the brilliant mathematician's rise to fame while he privately battled crippling schizophrenia. In a tweet Sunday, Crowe extended his condolences to Nash's family:
Stunned...my heart goes out to John & Alicia & family.— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) May 24, 2015
An amazing partnership. Beautiful minds, beautiful hearts. https://t.co/XF4V9MBwU4
Nash will best be remembered for his groundbreaking work on game theory and differential equations. "John Nash is definitely one of the giants of game theory, which is an important tool in economics and numerous other areas," wrote Israeli Nobel laureate Yisrael Aumann in a tribute. "He invented it, the key concept known as 'equilibrium strategy;' and not only did he found the field, but he was also a game-theory giant."
A 27-page dissertation on non-cooperative games Nash wrote in 1950 later earned him the Nobel Prize — a fortuitous moment, he later recalled, due to his unemployment at the time. "I had become widely known, but in a sense it wasn't officially recognized," he told the Nobel Prize site in 2004. "I was quoted very frequently in the literature of economics and mathematics, but it's quite different to get official recognition. It transformed my life."
Nash, who had served as a senior research mathematician at Princeton University since 1995, was remembered Sunday as an inspiration for generations of students.
"John's remarkable achievements inspired generations of mathematicians, economists and scientists who were influenced by his brilliant, groundbreaking work in game theory, and the story of his life with Alicia moved millions of readers and moviegoers who marveled at their courage in the face of daunting challenges," wrote university President Christopher L. Eisgruber.
You can see a 2009 interview by Al Jazeera about Nash on his life, work, and the film "A Beautiful Mind" below:
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