Game Theory Pioneer John Nash, Wife, Killed In Taxi Crash

The world lost one of its truly beautiful minds this Saturday, when a taxi carrying John Nash, 86, and his wife of nearly 60 years, Alicia, crashed on the New Jersey Turnpike. The two were killed on the spot when the driver of the Ford Crown Victoria lost control as he tried to pass a Chrysler in the center lane, crashing into a guard rail according to NJ.com.

The Nashes were ejected from the car according to State Police Sgt. Gregory Williams, adding that "It doesn't appear that they were wearing seatbelts."

The second vehicle also crashed into the guard rail, Williams said. The taxi driver was extricated from the vehicle and flown to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick with non-life-threatening injuries.

John Forbes Nash, Jr, was best known recently for the 2001 movie starting Russell Crowe "A Beautiful Mind" which depicted Nash's struggles with schizophrenia. His biggest accomplishment was his groundbreaking and pioneering work on game theory. Nash earned a Ph.D. degree in 1950 with a 28-page dissertation on non-cooperative games.

The thesis contained the definition and properties of what is now known as the "Nash equilibrium" - a crucial concept in non-cooperative games, it won Nash the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1994.

As NJ.com reports, Nash spent his career at Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He's considered a giant in mathematics, particularly in the field of partial differential equations, but won the Nobel Prize in economics for a paper he wrote on game theory, the mathematics of decision-making.

In addition to the Nobel, Nash has won the John von Neumann Theory Prize (1978) and the American Mathematical Society's Steele Prize for a Seminal Contribution to Research (1999).

Nash was in Norway on Tuesday to receive the Abel Prize for mathematics from King Harald V for his work, along with longtime colleague Louis Nirenberg, on nonlinear partial differential equations.

Nirenberg, reached at his home Sunday, said Nash was a "wonderful mathematician" and person. Nirenberg had just flown back from Norway with the couple. The Nashes were taking a taxi back from the airport, he said. Nirenberg had known the couple since the 1950s.

Alicia Nash was his caretaker while he battled his mental illness. They became mental health care advocates when their son John was also diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Upon learning of the crash, Russell Crowe who was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for his role as John Nash took to Twitter to share condolences.

We share in his condolences as the world has indeed just lost one of its most brilliant minds of the past century.

Follows a clip of Nash accepting the Nobel prize in 1994.

 

And here is an interview with Dr. John Nash at the 1st Meeting of Laureates in Economic Sciences in Lindau, Germany, September 1-4, 2004.

 

What may be one of Nash's last documented media appearances, here is the legendary mathematician speaking at Seton Hall University in 2012.

 

Finally, for those who may be unfamiliar with Nash's life and achievements, here is a National Geographic documentary of the game theory pioneer.