John Nash arrives at Princeton University as a new graduate student. He is a recipient of the prestigious Carnegie Prize for mathematics. Though he was promised a single room, his roommate Charles, a literature student, greets him as he moves in and soon becomes his best friend. Nash also meets a group of other promising math and science graduate students, Martin Hansen, Sol, Ainsley, and Bender, with whom he strikes up an awkward friendship. Nash admits to Charles that he is better with numbers than people, which comes as no surprise to them after watching his largely unsuccessful attempts at conversation with the women at the local bar.
Nash is seeking a truly original idea for his thesis paper, and he is under increasing pressure to develop his thesis so he can begin work. A particularly harsh rejection from a woman at the bar is what ultimately inspires his fruitful work in the concept of governing dynamics, a theory in mathematical economics.
After the conclusion of Nashs studies as a student at Princeton, he accepts a prestigious appointment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), along with his friends Sol and Bender.
Five years later while teaching a class on Calculus at MIT, he places a particularly interesting problem on the chalkboard that he dares his students to solve. When his student Alicia Larde comes to his office to discuss the problem, the two fall in love and eventually marry.