Von Neumann is a Hungarian American mathematician and polymath (an individual with a broad knowledge base who studies a variety of subjects) and one of Princeton’s most famous professors during John Nash’s PhD studies at the university. Nasar describes him as “possibly the last true polymath,” a “worldly and engaged” scholar who forged connections between his academic work and the political sphere: for example, he was a member of the Atomic Energy Commission and the top member of the Manhattan Project, advising the United States on the atomic bomb and military strategy during the Cold War. Though in A Beautiful Mind, von Neumann is initially disparaging of Nash’s research, Nash would build on von Neumann’s foundational work in game theory, describing a scenario—a solution for a non-cooperative game—that von Neumann failed to sketch out in his and Oskar Morgenstern’s 1944 treatise on game theory, The Theory of Games and Economic Work.
John von Neumann Character Timeline in A Beautiful Mind
The timeline below shows where the character John von Neumann appears in A Beautiful Mind. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...understanding dynamics of human rivalry—were some of the most significant ideas of the 20th century. John von Neumann , the Hungarian-born mathematician, paved the way for Nash’s ideas as the first academic to... (full context)
Chapter 3 – The Center of the Universe
...of the 20th century, Princeton had become a home for Europe’s rising stars in mathematics—including John von Neumann —who were financed by research fellowships funded by the wealthy Rockefeller family. Princeton’s Institute for... (full context)
Chapter 6 – Games
Chapter 7 – John von Neumann
Chapter 8 – The Theory of Games
Chapter 9 – The Bargaining Problem
...encouraged to further explore this idea by the presence of the game theory group ( von Neumann and Morgenstern) at Princeton. His initial exposure to economics, it seems, was most influential in... (full context)
Chapter 10 – Nash’s Rival Idea
Chapter 11 – Lloyd
...Shapley who is viewed as “the real star of the next generation” of mathematicians, by von Neumann and other Princeton professors. However, while Nash publishes three important papers in one year, Shapley... (full context)