Greece’s Konstantinos Daskalakis is the scientist who within a year solved Nash’s “riddle”, the equation mathematicians all around the world had been trying to solve for 60 years.
Konstantinos, who is an assistant professor at MIT, has received many accolades, including the 2008 Doctoral Dissertation Award from ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery) for advancing our understanding of behavior in complex networks of interacting individuals, such as those enabled and created by the Internet, a Career Award from the US Institute of Science, the Informatics Award from the Sloan Foundation, the Outstanding Publication Award from the International Association of Applied Mathematics SIAM, the research fellowship of Microsoft and the Research Award from the Giuseppe Sciacca Institute of the Vatican.
Earlier this year, he also won the 2018 Rolf Nevanlinna Prize, one of the most prestigious international awards in mathematics, which is awarded every four years to a scientist under 40 who has made major contributions to the mathematical aspects of computer science.
Konstantinos was born in Athens in 1981, where he spent most of his childhood. His parents who are both teachers are from the island of Crete. His father was a mathematician and his mother a philologist, which is how Konstantinos’ passion for maths and science began.
He studied at the Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering department at the National Technical University of Athens and graduated with a grade of 9.98/10.
Postgraduate and doctoral studies followed at the University of Berkeley in the United States. He was hired by Microsoft and resigned soon after to become an assistant professor at MIT, at the young age of 27 when he also decided to give the “Nash equilibrium” a shot and managed to solve it within 12 months.
This put Daskalakis on the world stage and he is now known as one of the smartest people alive.
Nash’s work showed an important mathematical theorem that attempts to characterise what we expect to occur in gambling. A betting game is the mathematical model of a conflict between people and it can represent gambling or a house auction.
Nash had provided an equilibrium, about what happens in a game depending on its characteristics. However, he did not provide a relevant algorithm. He made a mathematical conjecture about what happens in games, but he did not provide an algorithm.
Since 1950, when Nash revealed his theorem, economists had been trying to find calculation algorithm. “What we have demonstrated is something that the scientific community was not expecting. There is no such algorithm,” Daskalakis revealed.
“I came up with one piece of evidence for “Nash’s riddle”, while at home when my computer crashed and I was waiting for it to restart. If the computer was working, the whole topic may not have progressed at all. I felt that I came in contact with a harmony in the universe”.
When asked about his high IQ, Daskalakis responded, “What is IQ? An indicator, a simple number. It says nothing about a scientist. What really counts is the footprint that one leaves in the world through his work and research. Otherwise, what is the use of high intelligence?”.