Princeton University mathematician John Nash Jr. and his wife, Alicia Nash, were killed in a car accident Saturday (May 23) when the taxi they were riding in lost control on the New Jersey Turnpike, state police confirmed. John Nash was 86. Alicia Nash was 82.
The couple, portrayed by Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly in the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind about John Nash’s struggle with schizophrenia, was reportedly on their way home from the airport following a trip to Norway, where Nash accepted the 2015 Abel Prize for his work on nonlinear partial differential equations and their applications to geometric analysis. He shared the prize with the mathematician Louis Nirenberg.
The accident occurred just a few miles from the Nashes’ home in central New Jersey.
John Nash was born in 1928 in West Virginia. As the winner of a national Westinghouse Award, he attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology on a full scholarship, studying engineering and chemistry. At Princeton, he studied game theory, and developed the concept that would come to be known as the Nash equilibrium. His work has been applied to fields ranging from economics to evolutionary biology to artificial intelligence.
He met his wife while teaching at MIT, where she had studied physics. They married in 1957, and again in 2001 after a divorce that had lasted several decades. The couple, whose son, John, also was diagnosed with schizophrenia, became advocates for mental health programs that help sufferers of mental illness lead productive lives.
Princeton University has issued this statement from its president, Christopher Eisgruber:
We are stunned and saddened by news of the untimely passing of John Nash and his wife and great champion, Alicia. 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.