‘Beautiful Mind’ mathematician killed

John Nash (file photo 2011)

John Nash, seen here receiving an honorary doctorate in 2011, was one of the developers of game theory

US mathematician John Nash, who inspired the Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind, has died in a car crash with his wife, police have said.

Nash, 86, and his 82-year-old wife Alicia were killed when their taxi crashed in New Jersey, they said.

The mathematician is renowned for his work in game theory, winning the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994.

His breakthroughs in maths – and his struggles with schizophrenia – were the focus of the 2001 film.

Russell Crowe, who played him in the film, tweeted: “Stunned… My heart goes out to John & Alicia & family. An amazing partnership. Beautiful minds, beautiful hearts.”

Alicia Nash helped care for her husband, and the two later became prominent mental health advocates.

John Nash and Russell Crowe

Game theorist John Nash (left) was portrayed by Russell Crowe in the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind

Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Forbes Nash and his wife Alicia arrive at the 74th annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, in this file photo taken March 24, 2002

Nash and his wife attended the Oscars in 2002

The two were thrown from their vehicle, police said. Media reports said the couple may not have been wearing seatbelts when they crashed.

Their taxi driver, and a passenger in another car, were also injured.

Nash married Alicia Larde in 1957, when he was a rising star in the maths world.

But he developed severe schizophrenia soon after, and Alicia had him committed several times. The couple divorced in 1962.

They stayed close, and his condition had begun to improve by the 1980s. They remarried in 2001.

Earlier this week, Nash received the Abel Prize, another top honour in the field of mathematics.


What is game theory?

If you have ever tried to haggle over a price, you may have unknowingly engaged in some of the logic employed in game theory.

The subject can be described as the mathematical study of decision-making, conflict and strategy in social situations.

The “game” is an attempt to model the decision-making process, those making the choices and what those outcomes might be.

It has huge applications, with everything from dating sites to auctions of sports rights using its ideas.

The Nash Equilibrium, for which John Nash won his Nobel Prize, describes situations where it is of no benefit for players in a complex game to change strategy, when they consider others’. It helps explain evolutionary stability, for example.


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