纳什的离世 让你重新思考选择

2019年10月25日 英语美文 暂无评论

多数学者的毕生愿望,就是在他们所在的领域留下一份有持久价值的贡献。约翰纳什(John Nash) 30岁以前的学术发现彻底改变了两个学科


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Most academics spend their lifetime craving to leave one lasting contribution to their field. By the age of 30, John Nash, who died at 86 in a weekend road accident along with his wife Alicia, had made discoveries that would revolutionise two disciplines and secure him both the Nobel Prize in economics and its equivalent for mathematics, the Abel Prize.
多数学者的毕生愿望,就是在他们所在的领域留下一份有持久价值的贡献。约翰纳什(John Nash) 30岁以前的学术发现彻底改变了两个学科,并让他赢得了诺贝尔经济学奖(Nobel Prize in Economics)以及数学领域一项与诺贝尔奖比肩的大奖——阿贝尔奖(Abel Prize)。上周末,纳什与妻子阿莉西亚(Alicia)一同遭遇车祸去世,享年86岁。 本文来自美文网


His doctoral thesis at Princeton, a slender 32-page document completed when he was just 21, placed game theory, the study of strategic interactions pioneered by mathematician John von Neumann, at the heart of economics.
年仅21岁时,纳什就在普林斯顿大学(Princeton University)完成了他的博士论文。这篇薄薄的、只有28页的博士论文,使博弈论成为经济学的核心理论。博弈论最早由数学家约翰冯诺伊曼(John von Neumann)提出,研究对象是策略间的互动。
After Nash, economists stopped thinking exclusively about unrealistic models of perfectly competitive markets and began focusing on cases in which each agent has to consider the actions of rivals.
The concept of the “Nash equilibrium”, which he invented, changed the way we look at the choice by companies to advertise or by governments to stock a nuclear arsenal. While both decisions can appear wasteful, individuals still take them in response to what they think their opponents will do.
他创造的“纳什均衡”(Nash equilibrium)概念,改变了我们对企业做广告或政府储备核武的看法。虽然这两项决定看上去可能都会造成浪费,但个体依然选择这么做,为的是应对他们脑海中对手将采取的行动。
“John Nash’s definition of the Nash equilibrium was for the social sciences what the discovery of the DNA structure by James Watson and Francis Crick was for biology,” said Roger Myerson, a fellow Nobel laureate in economics. “It was one of the most important contributions in the history of economic thought.”
“约翰纳什的‘纳什均衡’理论对于社会科学的意义,堪比詹姆斯沃森(James Watson)和弗朗西斯克里克(Francis Crick)发现的脱氧核糖核酸(DNA)结构对于生物学的意义,”同为诺贝尔经济学奖得主的罗杰迈尔森(Roger Myerson)说。“它是经济思想史上最重要的贡献之一。”
Born on June 13 1928 in Bluefield, West Virginia, after receiving his doctorate Nash joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he proceeded to solve problems in the field of partial differential equations that had confounded mathematicians for years.
“I recall a seminar where he proved one of his outstanding results,” said Joseph Kohn, a maths professor at Princeton who knew Nash for more than 60 years. “Even the most distinguished professors of the department could not believe what they saw.”
“我记得在一次研讨会上,他证明了他的一项卓越研究成果,”与纳什相识60多年的普林斯顿大学数学系教授约瑟夫科恩(Joseph Kohn)表示,“就连这个系中最杰出的教授,也被他们所看到的东西惊呆了。”
At MIT Nash met Alicia, from El Salvador, who would soon become his wife. She would also be the rock of his existence when, in 1959, Nash was stricken by schizophrenia, which would plague him for more than 20 years. As paranoia and delusional episodes intensified, he underwent repeated spells of hospital stays. He had to stop working and engaged in seemingly random actions, including a trip to Europe where he tried to relinquish his US citizenship.
His wife divorced him in 1963 but then chose to let him live in her house near Princeton as a lodger (they remarried). Nash became a familiar figure across the Princeton campus, wandering around and leaving mysterious formulas on classroom blackboards.
The genius turned into the “Phantom of Fine Hall”, as he became known.
这位天才变成了“数学系大楼的幽灵”(Phantom of Fine Hall),逐渐为众人所知。
Just like when a mathematical intuition mysteriously materialises, Nash’s brain suddenly began to heal. “I seem to be thinking rationally again in the style that is characteristic of scientists,” he wrote in an autobiographical account for the Nobel Foundation when he won the award alongside John Harsanyi and Reinhard Selten in 1994.
就像一个数学直觉不可思议地变成现实一样,纳什的大脑突然间开始康复。当他与约翰豪尔沙尼(John Harsanyi)和赖因哈德泽尔腾(Reinhard Selten)一道获得1994年诺贝尔经济学奖时,他在提交给诺贝尔基金会(Nobel Foundation)的自传性陈述中写道:“我似乎能够再次以科学家特有的风格进行理性思考了。”
Just as startlingly, academic recognition was followed by Hollywood glory. A biography by author Sylvia Nasar provided the basis for the plot of A Beautiful Mind, a blockbuster featuring Russell Crowe as Nash, which scooped four Academy Awards.
同样令人称奇的是,在得到学术认可之后,纳什又被罩上了好莱坞光环。西尔维娅纳萨尔(Sylvia Nasar)撰写的纳什传记,为好莱坞大片《美丽心灵》(A Beautiful Mind)提供了情节素材。该片一举夺得四项奥斯卡大奖(Academy Awards),罗素克劳(Russell Crowe)在片中出演纳什。
“He was initially sceptical about the movie,” says Eric Maskin, another Nobel laureate and a friend of the Nashes. “But he then realised that even though the movie was mostly fiction, it brought issues which he cared about such as game theory and schizophrenia into the public domain.”
“起初,他对该片持怀疑态度,”纳什夫妇的朋友、另一位诺贝尔奖得主埃里克马斯金(Eric Maskin)说,“但后来他意识到,虽然该片大部分是虚构的,但它将他所关心的问题,如博弈论和精神分裂症,带入了公共领域。”
The prodigy who had earlier abounded in intellectual arrogance learnt to deal graciously with his newfound fame. Prof Maskin remembers how a decade ago, Nash was about to give a highly technical talk to a packed auditorium. “Aren’t you pleased with all this public?” he was asked. “They did not come here to see me,” Nash said. “They came here to see Russell Crowe.” Ferdinando Giugliano
这位早年“恃才傲物”的天才学会了客气地对待自己新得到的声誉。马斯金教授还记得10年前纳什在一个挤满听众的礼堂做一场极具理论性的演讲前的情形。当被问到“看到眼前的这些公众,难道你不高兴吗?”时,纳什答道:“他们不是来看我的,他们是来看罗素克劳的。” 美文网