John Nash born on June 13, 1928 in Bluefield, West Virginia, United States. His father, also John, was an electrical engineer and his mother, Virginia, was a teacher. It was she who encouraged his intellectual curiosity, helping him to obtain a good academic education.
As a child, Nash was already solitary and introvert, preferring books to playing with other children. At school, teachers did not recognize Nash as a prodigy. They considered him an extremely antisocial child. At the age of twelve, increasingly isolated, Nash took refuge in his bedroom, devoting himself to doing scientific experiments with which he learned more than at school. Around the age of 14 he became interested in mathematics when he read T. Bell's "Men of Mathematics" (1937). At that time he was able to prove for himself some results of Fermat.
In 1941, he entered the University of Bluefield where he demonstrated and developed his mathematical skills. Colleagues looked at him as a stranger, a difficult person to understand. A tragic episode further aggravated Nash's isolation: in an explosion caused by a chemical experiment carried out by Nash and a colleague of his was mortally hit.
In June 1945, Nash joined the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University where he was offered a scholarship. He began his college career studying chemistry and then math. John Synge, head of the mathematics department, recognizing the young man's great talent, encouraged him to devote himself to mathematics.
In 1948, he was accepted into the PhD program in mathematics at two of the most famous universities in the United States: Harvard and Princeton. Your choice fell on Princeton. There he showed interest in various fields of pure mathematics: Topology, Algebra Geometry, Game Theory, and Logic. But even at Princeton, Nash avoided attending lectures and classes. I learned by myself without the help of teachers or even books.
Even before finishing the course proved Brouwer's fixed point theorem. Some time later he solved one of Riemann's puzzles which he was perplexing. In 1949, at the age of 21, Nash wrote a PhD thesis that, 45 years later, would earn him the Nobel Prize in Economics. The work, known as the "Non-cooperative games" of Nash will revolutionize the study of economic strategy.
In 1950, Nash began working for the RAND Corporation, which channeled US government funds for cold war-related scientific studies. Nash has applied his recent advances in game theory to analyze diplomatic and military strategies. At the same time I continued to teach at Princeton.
A year later, in 1951, Nash was invited to MIT math teacher where he worked until 1959. During his stay at MIT, psychic problems began to worsen. Despite his fragile psychic balance, in 1953 he had a son with Eleanor Stier who was named after John David Stier. However, against Eleanor's will, Nash never married. In the summer of 1954, Nash was arrested by police in a homosexual persecution operation. As a result, he was expelled from RAND Corporation.
In 1957, she married Alicia, a student of physics at MIT. A year later, begins to suffer from schizophrenia. Alicia decides some time later to divorce and continues to help him fight his illness. Nash had to resign as a professor at MIT and was hospitalized against his will. The situation was extremely irregular. Nash was temporarily recovering, but soon after he suffered mental disorders again. In the brief intervals of his recovery, he produced important mathematical work. In 1958 his mental state worsened, but in 1990 he managed to recover from the disease.
In 1994 he received, along with John C. Harsanyi and Reinhard Selten, the Nobel Prize for Economics for his work on Theory of Non-cooperative Games.
Read John Nash's autobiography at NobelPrize