Eisgruber: Princeton saddened over reported deaths of John Nash and wife

May 24, 2015 12:35 p.m.

John Nash

Photo by  © Peter Badge/Typos 1 in coop. with the HLF - all rights reserved 2015

The University community is "stunned and saddened" upon hearing news reports that Princeton mathematician John Nash and his wife, Alicia, were killed in a traffic accident, President Christopher L. Eisgruber said Sunday.

The Nashes reportedly died Saturday when the taxi in which they were riding crashed on the New Jersey Turnpike. They were on their way home from Norway, where he had received the Abel Prize with longtime collaborator Louis Nirenberg of New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematics.

"We are stunned and saddened by news of the untimely passing of John Nash and his wife and great champion, Alicia," Eisgruber said. "Both of them were very special members of the Princeton University community.

"John's remarkable achievements inspired generations of mathematicians, economists and scientists who were influenced by his brilliant, groundbreaking work in game theory, and the story of his life with Alicia moved millions of readers and moviegoers who marveled at their courage in the face of daunting challenges."

Nash's life story was told in the movie "A Beautiful Mind," which in 2002 won the Academy Award for best picture and three other Oscars. The Nashes were portrayed by Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly.

Crowe said on Twitter that he was stunned by the Nashes' deaths, referring to them as "beautiful minds, beautiful hearts."

Nash won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1994 for his work in game theory. The Abel Prize, from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and presented in Oslo by King Harald V, went to Nash for his work in partial differential equations, which are used to describe the basic laws of scientific phenomena.

A native of Bluefield, West Virginia, Nash received his doctorate in mathematics from Princeton in 1950 and his graduate and bachelor's degrees from Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1948.

Nash joined the Princeton mathematics department as a senior research mathematician in 1995. Until his death at age 86, Nash was a regular presence on campus. On March 25, colleagues feted him at a reception after the announcement of his Abel Prize award.   Note: A formal obituary on John Nash will be posted on the University homepage later this week.