Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I
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Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert

Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz

Volume I contains original biographical profiles of many of the most important and influential economists from the seventeenth century to the present day. These inform the reader about their lives, works and impact on the further development of the discipline. The emphasis is on their lasting contributions to our understanding of the complex system known as the economy. The entries also shed light on the means and ways in which the functioning of this system can be improved and its dysfunction reduced. Each Handbook can be read individually and acts as a self-contained volume in its own right. It can be purchased separately or as part of a three-volume set.
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Chapter 118: John Forbes Nash Jr (1928–2015)

Robert W. Dimand and Khalid Yahia


The mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr, shared the Royal Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Science in Memory of Alfred Nobel with John Harsanyi and Reinhard Selten in 1994 for his contributions in the early 1950s to the theory of strategic games: his proof of the existence of Nash equilibrium in non-cooperative games with compact strategy spaces, the Nash bargaining solution for cooperative games (games in which binding agreements are possible among players, with costless enforcement of contracts), and the Nash programme linking non-cooperative and cooperative games. Nash equilibrium as a solution concept for non-cooperative games has been fundamental to the expansion of game theory from a small sub-field within mathematical economics to increasingly pervasive influence throughout economics, the other social sciences, law, business strategy, and evolutionary biology. In the words of Nobel laureate Roger Myerson (1991: 105), “Nash’s (1951) concept of equilibrium is probably the most important solution concept in game theory” (see also Myerson 1999). John Forbes Nash Jr was born on 13 June 1928, in Bluefield, West Virginia, to an electrical engineer and his wife, a retired school teacher. Nash showed an early aptitude for mathematics and enrolled in advanced mathematics courses at Bluefield College while still in high school. He continued on to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh (now Carnegie Mellon University) on a full scholarship, initially majoring in chemical engineering but switching to mathematics during his first year. He completed his studies in only three years, graduating in 1948 with both a BSc....

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