Princeton honors the man with “A Beautiful Mind” Princeton University professor John Nash poses on the university's campus in Princeton, N.J. Oct. 11, 1994. Nash was named the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in economics. () (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast/Getty)
Princeton honors the man with “A Beautiful Mind”
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Five months after his remarkable life ended in a crash on a New Jersey highway, Princeton University is paying tribute to John Nash. He is the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician remembered by colleagues for his brilliance and by millions for the Hollywood movie about him.
 
On Oct. 21, the Ivy League school held a day of academic panels and remembrance events to honor John Nash. His struggle with schizophrenia was chronicled in 2001's "A Beautiful Mind." Nash and his wife, Alicia, were killed in a taxi crash on the New Jersey Turnpike in May.
 
The couple was returning home from Oslo, Norway. That's where John Nash had received the 2015 Abel Prize from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. It's one of the most prestigious honors in mathematics. The prize recognized his seminal work in partial differential equations. They are used to describe the basic laws of scientific phenomena.
 
"In terms of brilliance, he was no regular guy. His impact with just a few papers is something special," said Peter Sarnak. He is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Mathematics at Princeton. "That he died on his way back from a ceremony where he received one of the biggest prizes in mathematics, that was tragic. But it was good to see mathematicians recognize him. Because my feeling is he wasn't appreciated the way he should have been. For his fellow mathematicians, the Abel Prize was a long-overdue acknowledgment of his contributions to mathematics."
 
Among the day's featured events was a public lecture by Sylvia Nasar. She wrote the biography on which the movie starring Russell Crowe as Nash was based. Nash's relatives and colleagues also gathered at the University Chapel for a public event to honor Nash's life and his long connection to the school.
 
Nash had a long connection with the university. He received his doctorate in mathematics from Princeton in 1950 after he got his graduate and bachelor's degrees from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1948. The 1994 Nobel Prize winner in economics, Nash had held the position of senior research mathematician at Princeton since 1995. He was renowned for his work in game theory.
 
Sarnak described Nash as "a very nice guy who would come to lectures and seminars and ask interesting questions. He could also talk about anything at parties."
 
Joseph Kohn, a professor emeritus of mathematics at Princeton, said staffers there were very supportive of Nash.
 
Kohn said Nash "seemed to get a boost" from winning the Nobel Prize. Kohn added that it was inspiring to work with him because of his many accomplishments in mathematics. But Kohn said Nash's impact was not just limited to his field. He noted that his work in analyzing financial markets continues to benefit society.
 
He also believes Nash's legacy and the appreciation for his work will grow in coming years as people become more aware of the "fantastic work" he was doing and start to understand the ideas behind them.
 
"People owe him a tremendous amount, whether they know it or not," Kohn said.

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COMMENTS (4)
  • batiar-3-bar
    10/30/2015 - 11:15 a.m.

    Mathematicians benefit our society by educating others, helping students, and helping find new things to improve society. John Nash was a beyond brilliant man who unfortunately got into a car crash with his wife Alicia on the New Jersey Highway. They both lost their lives in the crash and now Princeton University has decided to honor him. Right before that he had won one of the greatest honor imaginable. I found this article sad because he was such a brilliant man with many brilliant accomplishments.

  • jpp-jac
    10/30/2015 - 05:18 p.m.

    Mathematicians are beneficial to society because there are quiet a few jobs that require math skills. As an example my dad is an engineer so he requires math skills and without him that position measurements would be incorrect. That is why I think mathematicians are beneficial to society

  • mayaw-6-bar
    11/02/2015 - 05:06 p.m.

    Mathematicians benefit society because they make new advancements, and discoveries. In paragraph 3 it says, "The prize recognized his seminal work in partial differential equations. They are used to describe the basic laws of scientific phenomena." This helps scientists understand why laws work and proves that mathematicians make discoveries that matter. I found this article interesting because math is so important. I chose this article because I enjoy math. I wonder what equation he solved, and if he made the equation he solved?

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    11/16/2015 - 09:23 p.m.

    I think that it is interesting for Princeton University to have been able to have paid tribute to Josh Nash. Not only that but he was the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician so he was famous world-wide. I believe that it is very sad for him to have died.

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