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John Nash, Graduate Photo
John Nash, Jr., c. 1948

John Nash

Noted mathematician John Nash, Jr. (1928- ) received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1950. The impact of his 27 page dissertation on the fields of mathematics and economics was tremendous. In 1951 he joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. His battle with schizophrenia began around 1958, and the struggle with this illness would continue for much of his life. Nash eventually returned to the community of Princeton. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994. The 2001 film A Beautiful Mind, staring Russell Crowe, was loosely based on the life of Nash.

How can I obtain a copy of Nash’s dissertation?

Nash’s dissertation, Non-cooperative Games, is available on this web site in PDF format. The dissertation is provided for research use only. Researchers must make a written request for permission to quote or publish materials to the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

Non-cooperative Games, dissertation, John Nash, May 1950 ( 1.2M ).

[Note: Chapter 6 of The Essential John Nash, edited by Harold W. Kuhn and Sylvia Nasar (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2001) contains a facsimile of Nash's 1950 Ph.D. dissertation on non-cooperative games.]

In the movie A Beautiful Mind there is a scene in which faculty members present their pens to Nash. What is the origin of the pen ceremony? When did it start?

The scene in the movie A Beautiful Mind in which mathematics professors ritualistically present pens to Nash was completely fabricated in Hollywood. No such custom exists. What it symbolizes is that Nash was accepted and recognized in the mathematics community for his accomplishments. While some movies are based on books, the film A Beautiful Mind states that it was inspired by the life of John Nash. There are many discrepancies between the book and the film.

May I see Nash’s graduate school records?

Nash’s records, and those of other undergraduate and graduate students, are restricted. Access to the academic records of living individuals is protected under the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. Access to these files and to the files of deceased graduates and former students is also regulated by University policy. For more information see the Princeton University Policy on Access to Archived Student Academic Files.

May I have a copy of Nash’s 1994 Nobel Prize acceptance speech?

At the Nobel Prize Award ceremony, His Majesty the King of Sweden hands each Laureate a diploma, a medal, and a document confirming the Prize amount. The Laureates do not give acceptance speeches. The scene in the movie A Beautiful Mind in which Nash thanks his wife Alicia for her continued support during his illness is fictional.

Laureates are each invited to give an hour-long lecture; however, the Nobel committee did not ask Nash to do so, due to concerns over his mental health.

Related Sources

Faculty and Professional Staff Index, 1764-2001

Historical Subject Files Collection, 1746-2005. See file on A Beautiful Mind.

Last modified: Tuesday, 23-Apr-2013 16:24:57 EDT