At the age of 21, a brilliant and highly eccentric graduate student made a major contribution to game theory: John Nash had discovered an influential theory of rational human behaviour. But ten years later, at the peak of a dazzling mathematical career and soon after his marriage to a physicist, Nash suffered a breakdown. Diagnosed a schizophrenic ...
At the age of 21, a brilliant and highly eccentric graduate student made a major contribution to game theory: John Nash had discovered an influential theory of rational human behaviour. But ten years later, at the peak of a dazzling mathematical career and soon after his marriage to a physicist, Nash suffered a breakdown. Diagnosed a schizophrenic, he was beset by bizarre delusions, unable to work, and repeatedly incarcerated in mental hospitals.
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Publishers Weekly, 1998-05-11 Nasar has written a notable biography of mathematical genius John Forbes Nash (b. 1928), a founder of game theory, a RAND Cold War strategist and winner of a 1994 Nobel Prize in economics. She charts his plunge into paranoid schizophrenia beginning at age 30 and his spontaneous recovery in the early 1990s after decades of torment. He attributes his remission to will power; he stopped taking antipsychotic drugs in 1970 but underwent a half-dozen involuntary hospitalizations. Born in West Virginia, the flamboyant mathematical wizard rubbed elbows at Princeton and MIT with Einstein, John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener. He compartmentalized his secret personal life, shows Nasar, hiding his homosexual affairs with colleagues from his mistress, a nurse who bore him a son out of wedlock, while he also courted Alicia Larde, an MIT physics student whom he married in 1957. Their son, John, born in 1959, became a mathematician and suffers from episodic schizophrenia. Alicia divorced Nash in 1963, but they began living together again as a couple around 1970. Today Nash, whose mathematical contributions span cosmology, geometry, computer architecture and international trade, devotes himself to caring for his son. Nasar, an economics correspondent for the New York Times, is equally adept at probing the puzzle of schizophrenia and giving a nontechnical context for Nash's mathematical and scientific ideas. (June)
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