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Words of Wisdom

John Forbes Nash, Jr. (1928-2015)

The Nobel Prize-winning mathematician whose life inspired the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind was killed today, along with his wife, in an automobile accident. 

The late John Forbes Nash, Jr. was one of the most important mathematicians of the 20th century. Thanks to the Oscar-winning 2001 film A Beautiful Mind (and the biography of the same name), he was also one of the most popular, though likely more for his infamous bout with mental illness than the transformational principles he championed. Nash was awarded a one-third share of the 1994 Nobel Prize in economics for “pioneering analysis of equilibria in the theory of non-cooperative games.” Nash’s most famous contribution to the field was probably the Nash equilibrium, a solution concept for decision-making with regard to best strategies. 

Earlier this weekend, the 86-year-old Nash and his wife, Alicia, were killed in an automobile accident in New Jersey. We feel that there’s no better figure to recognize in this space today than the brilliant, troubled, (dare we say) beautiful mind of John Forbes Nash, Jr.

“People are always selling the idea that people with mental illness are suffering. I think madness can be an escape. If things are not so good, you maybe want to imagine something better.”

Below, neuroscientist Heather Berlin references Nash in an analysis of the thin line between genius and disorder:


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