John F. Nash Jr.


DEFINITION of 'John F. Nash Jr.'

An American mathematician who won the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, along with John Harsanyi and Reinhard Selten, for his development of the mathematical foundations of game theory. Nash Jr.'s research differentiated between cooperative and non-cooperative games. He also developed an equilibrium theory known as the Nash Equilibrium (of which the prisoner's dilemma is a well-known example).

BREAKING DOWN 'John F. Nash Jr.'

Born in West Virginia in 1928, Nash Jr. trained not as an economist but as a mathematician, earning his Ph.D. in math from Princeton at the age of 22. He taught math at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked for the RAND Corporation, but his paranoid schizophrenia negatively affected his career for about two and a half decades. The 2001 Academy Award-winning film "A Beautiful Mind" is based on his life and the struggle between his genius and his mental illness.

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