John Nash’s Super Short PhD Thesis: 26 Pages & 2 Citations

nash thesis

When John Nash wrote “Non Coop­er­a­tive Games,” his Ph.D. dis­ser­ta­tion at Prince­ton in 1950, the text of his the­sis (read it online) was brief. It ran only 26 pages. And more par­tic­u­lar­ly, it was light on cita­tions. Nash’s diss cit­ed two texts: John von Neu­mann & Oskar Mor­gen­stern’s The­o­ry of Games and Eco­nom­ic Behav­ior (1944), which essen­tial­ly cre­at­ed game the­o­ry and rev­o­lu­tion­ized the field of eco­nom­ics; the oth­er cit­ed text, “Equi­lib­ri­um Points in n‑Person Games,” was an arti­cle writ­ten by Nash him­self. And it laid the foun­da­tion for his dis­ser­ta­tion, anoth­er sem­i­nal work in the devel­op­ment of game the­o­ry, for which Nash won the Nobel Prize in Eco­nom­ic Sci­ences in 1994.

The reward of invent­ing a new field is hav­ing a slim bib­li­og­ra­phy.

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Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in June, 2015.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Short­est-Known Paper Pub­lished in a Seri­ous Math Jour­nal: Two Suc­cinct Sen­tences

The World Record for the Short­est Math Arti­cle: 2 Words

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Comments (2)
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  • Garreth Byrne says:

    Some­times doc­tor­al dis­ser­ta­tions are long on foot­notes and bib­li­og­ra­phy — and short on orig­i­nal think­ing. John Nash reversed the aca­d­e­m­ic trend. Reminds me of the Renais­sance painter who was asked for evi­dence of his abil­i­ty to draw. He drew a near-per­fect cir­cle on a can­vas, and was accept­ed by the mas­ter as an appren­tice.

  • Dr B Vijay Sarthi says:

    Excel­lent con­cept and articles.…worth reading.…pl for­ward more read­ing

    Thanks and regards

    Dr B Vijay Sarthi

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