John Nash

Famed Princeton University professor John F. Nash and his wife were killed in an automobile accident over the weekend. Professor Nash is popularly known to many as the subject of the Oscar-winning film, “A Beautiful Mind”.

Many enlightening things have been written about the work of John Nash including an article covering his winning of the Nobel Prize for economics in 1994, and this recent article following his death covering Nash’s legacy, by Benjamin Morris posted on one of my favorite blog sites – fivethirtyeight.com. He was a giant and I’m scarcely able to add meaningfully to the wonderful tributes paid to him. But he did change the way I think about the world.

I was first introduced to John Nash when his name, and the title of his paper, Non-Cooperative Games, appeared on a syllabus when I was in graduate school. I read the paper many times over during that semester and still never felt able to comprehend even a fraction of his idea or the math he used to prove it. What I did understand well enough was the notion of his theorem that was nearly infinitely applicable in real life and that he had thought it through in the most excruciating detail. I remember this latter realization as one of the first times that it truly dawned on me just how deeply many very complex matters have been thought about by very complex thinkers – and also how often they literally change our understanding of how our world works.

Thank you Professor Nash. You changed the way I think about the world.