John Nash’s Dissertation

17 March 2009 at 1:42 pm 8 comments

| Peter Klein |

Thanks to Dave Prychitko for linking to the original, which I hadn’t seen before. Things I didn’t know about the dissertation:

  1. The symbols and equations are hand-written (standard practice for 1950, I assume).
  2. There is no discussion of social-science applications — in fact, no discussion of any applications other than poker.
  3. The bibliography contains two items, von Neumann and Morgenstern (1944) and an earlier paper by Nash.
  4. The whole thing is only 27 pages long.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Ephemera.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. dgerard  |  17 March 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Funded by the Atomic Energy Association.

    Do they still give any social science grants?

  • 2. Dagens citat | Sänd mina rötter regn  |  18 March 2009 at 3:24 am

    […] Peter Klein om en hyfsat berömd doktorsavhandling: There is no discussion of social-science applications — in fact, no discussion of any applications other than poker. […]

  • 3. En bref… « Rationalité Limitée  |  18 March 2009 at 3:31 am

    […] de nouvelles modalités pour partager les profits. On peut aussi trouver la thèse de John Nash (via). Oui oui, une thèse de 32 pages avec une bibliographie de 2 références. Comme quoi, pas besoin […]

  • 4. Joe Mahoney  |  18 March 2009 at 8:33 am

    Nash’s dissertation reminded me of one of the two elements of my dissatisfaction with doctoral education in an economics department. I was disappointed in the number of pure mathmaticians who had little intuition about real-world economics, and who often explicitly stated that they had no interest in learning or discussing real-world economics. They were content to stay within their reconstructed logic. A division of labor, yes, but it lacked something important, beyond specialization, namely, .subsequent trade !

    The other disappointment was the incredible amount of sneering that went on by faculty (both in the classroom and outside in the halls) toward each other and toward doctoral students. The lack of maturity of these “adults” and the absence of conversational ethics (e.g., do no sneer) was regarded as normal, acceptable behavior. Twenty years later and I still feel resentment. It was science based on fear, repression, intimidation and bullying. Kind of a GNASH equilibrium.

  • 5. spostrel  |  18 March 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Wow! I guess I lucked out. That wasn’t anything like my experience. We did have a lot of math, but not too many pure math types among the faculty or the students.

  • 6. Peter Klein  |  19 March 2009 at 6:37 am

    In case it wasn’t clear, I should point out that Nash’s PhD was awarded in mathematics, not economics!

  • 7. David Hoopes  |  25 April 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Harold Kuhn, “Nash proved by page 6 of his thesis that every n-person finite non-cooperative game has at least one (Nash) equilibrium point. This is a profile of mixed strategies, one for each player, which is such that no player can improve his payoff by changing his mixed strategy unilaterally….

    It is important to recognize that the results that I have enumerated did not respond to some suggestion of von Neumann, nor did they follow work that he had outlined or proposed; rather they were revolutionary new ideas that
    ran counter to von Neumann’s theory.

  • 8. Amos  |  23 September 2013 at 9:01 am

    Guys, I am an economics graduate and I practice economics in South Africa as Local Economic Development practitioner. Nash’s Dissertation has no meaning, it is too pure mathematics, but I’d point that, literally, it does have a meaning in oligopoly theory………..But I wonder whether does it apply to modern economics……….I think we need modern economic theory textbooks. We can’t rely on Keynes, Friedman, Smith, Wagner’s and other classical economists to teach modern economics.

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