Mathematician John Nash gets celeb welcome

By ED LANFRANCO, UPI Science News  |  Aug. 22, 2002 at 2:22 PM
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BEIJING, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Princeton professor John Forbes Nash Jr. received a welcome more in keeping with a movie star than a mathematician in the Chinese capital.

Nash, 74, is in Beijing for the International Congress of Mathematicians. The event, held once every four years, brings together the world's leading experts across the spectrum of mathematical research and education.

He delivered an hourlong speech Wednesday entitled, "Studying Cooperation in Games via Agencies" to a packed auditorium at the Beijing International Convention Hall.

The work is a derivation of the "Nash Equilibrium" in game theory, which is used to understand human behavior. Nash posits that a game is best played when every player independently chooses his or her best response to the other players' best strategies.

The lecture focused on the use of "agents" which are defined as individuals or organizations used to represent another individual's interests in competitive situations. His speech delved into the permutations of choice and demonstrated how these could be expressed in mathematical models.

Nash's life story of a brilliant mathematician's struggle against paranoid schizophrenia was the subject of the film "A Beautiful Mind" starring Russell Crowe as Nash, which won four Oscars including Best Picture for 2002.

Many lecture attendees clutched Chinese-language copies of Sylvia Nasar's 1998 Nash biography on which the movie was based.

A small contingent of uniformed guards formed a phalanx on the proscenium to prevent more than 50 excited audience members from rushing the stage for photographs, autographs and simply a closer look at the man.

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