John Nash, 'Beautiful Mind' mathematician, and wife die in car crash

Their marriage, and Nash's Nobel-worthy work on game theory, were at the heart of the 2001 film. At the time of their deaths, John was 86 years old and Alicia was 82.

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John and Alicia Nash
John Nash and wife Alicia in October 2012. Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images

John Nash, the mathematician who was the subject of the 2001 movie "A Beautiful Mind," and his wife of many years, Alicia, died in a car crash in New Jersey on Saturday.

The two were riding in a taxi that lost control and hit another , according to the New Jersey State Police. He was 86 years old and she was 82.

Nash was best-known for his work in game theory, which is the mathematics of decision-making -- it derives from games such as chess and poker but has broader implications for strategic interactions in policy-making and in the business world. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics in 1994 for his work in showing a distinction between cooperative games, which allow for binding agreements, and non-cooperative games, which do not.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the Nobel Prize in economics, said this of Nash's efforts: "His most important contribution to the theory of non-cooperative games was to formulate a universal solution concept with an arbitrary number of players and arbitrary preferences, i.e., not solely for two-person zero-sum games. This solution concept later came to be called Nash equilibrium."

Earlier this month, he won the 2015 Abel Prize awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for for "striking and seminal contributions" to the theory of how particular differential equations apply to geometric analysis.

Nash taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1950s, but he was long affiliated with Princeton University, where he received his doctorate in 1950 and where as of this weekend he was still listed on the faculty.

He and Alicia had been married nearly 60 years.

"We are stunned and saddened by news of the untimely passing of John Nash and his wife and great champion, Alicia," Christopher L. Eisgruber, president of Princeton, said in a statement. "John's remarkable achievements inspired generations of mathematicians, economists and scientists who were influenced by his brilliant, groundbreaking work in game theory, and the story of his life with Alicia moved millions of readers and moviegoers who marveled at their courage in the face of daunting challenges."

The movie "A Beautiful Mind" drew its inspiration from Nash's work, his struggles with schizophrenia, and his marriage with Alicia. It won four Academy Awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture.

Actor Russell Crowe, who portrayed Nash in that film, tweeted Sunday that he was stunned by their deaths, and he offered this tribute: "An amazing partnership. Beautiful minds, beautiful hearts."