The schizophrenic genius

During grade school, he would do arithmetic operations with larger numbers than his fellow mates, and often showed adamancy in doing things “his way’’.
The schizophrenic genius
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When Professor R.J. Duffin, a professor at Carnegie Tech. (Now Carnegie Melon University) was asked to write the recommendation letter for John Nash, he wrote probably the world's smallest content comprising a professional recommendation letter: THIS MAN IS A GENIUS. During grade school, he would do arithmetic operations with larger numbers than his fellow mates, and often showed adamancy in doing things "his way''.  "He was different, and we all knew, but he was bright", said his sister.

"When he moved across the corridors of Princeton, you knew it was him as the sound of his footsteps was different. There was a certain arrogance in his footsteps", said his mates from Princeton University.

Born to an electrical engineer father and school teacher mother with the traits trained for immaculate taste and craft in mathematics, John Forbes Nash was a wonderful mathematician whose theories find  highly respectable positions in economics, computing, evolutionary biology, artificial intelligence, accounting, politics and military theory.

Deeply sunk into the vastness and beauty of mathematics, he mostly exhibited an introvert behavior during his studies and beyond and thus not being popular amongst his mates. Having been appointed as a teaching instructor in MIT at a young age, Nash was fondly known as a kid professor by the students. His focus was tremendous and his aim focused….an aim of finding the ultimate connect, the ultimate truth governing the major principles of subjects of nature. Trying his hands to solve Rieman at a very early age, Nash would see the apparent phenomena mathematically, from trying to find algorithms for relative motions of pigeons with each other while flocking lawns of Princeton University, or trying to develop the governing dynamics of human behavior. Patterns and numbers fascinated him acutely.

Being an acknowledged genius and having succeeded at a young age, but not being able to get a recognition by his expectations and standards, John Nash in his thirties began to show signs of extreme paranoia and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. From being conspired by the Pope, to being a kind of saint, from being followed by an army wearing red ties to being ready to be shown messages of God coded in patterns, the unfortunate period marked a variety of delusions, many in number and with different gravities. He would often hear voices which he said he was actually talking to himself, generating  and suggesting philosophical ideas in political sphere and rejecting them. This strife of years together prevented Nash to further nourish the mathematical revolution whose seeds were sown in him. Antipsychotic medication, therapies and intelligence helped him to fight the disorder and after more than twenty five years of dedicated trials and developments in piecemeal, he eventually began to think again rationally like scientists and mathematicians.

This West Virginia genius had a greater ambition to unfold "the original idea" and may be too sooner than God wished the men on earth to know and perhaps that is why Nature keeps checkpoints to stop the unstoppable, and may be thus his flight upward was cut short with the psychiatric disorder. Despite a life, predominantly grey shaded, he  managed to register himself in the annals of history with golden words. John Nash was awarded John von Neumann Theory prize in 1978. He won Leroy P. Steele Prize in 1999. In 1994, John Nash won The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his game theory work as a Princeton graduate. In 2010 he won the Double Helix Medal, while in 2015 he was awarded the prestigious Abel Prize.

The world lost its "Beautiful Mind" on 23rd May, 2015 dying in a car crash along with his wife Alicia Nash. 

In 1950 (before he was schizophrenic) John Nash submitted his Ph.D thesis on Non-Cooperative games encompassing "The Bargaining Problem", "Two-person Cooperative Games", "the definition and properties of Nash equilibrium" and thus significantly contributed to the game theory.

He did groundbreaking work in the area of real algebraic geometry. His work in mathematics includes Nash embedding theorem which shows that every abstract in Riemannian manifold can be isometrically realized as a submanifold of Euclidean space. He made significant contributions to the theory of nonlinear parabolic partial differential equations and to singularity theory.                                 

(The author is an M.Tech Computer Science Engineer from Kurukshetra University, and currently    pursuing M.A. in English)

syed.faaiq@gmail.com.

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