A group of scholars collaborating around a table.


Welcome to the Institute for Advanced Study

The Institute, established in 1930, began with twenty-three Members in the School of Mathematics with Albert Einstein as one of its first Professors. Since then, the Institute’s community of scholars has grown to include more than eight thousand historians, mathematicians, natural scientists, and social scientists. A Faculty of some thirty permanent Professors selects and mentors the roughly two hundred Members who arrive each year from around the world, about 60 percent from outside the United States, typically from more than thirty different countries.

Illustration of the Institute facing a large city and the cosmos at large.

Founding Director Abraham Flexner believed that if the Institute “eschews the chase for the useful, the minds of its scholars will be liberated, they will be free to take advantage of surprises, and someday an unexpected discovery, apparently leading nowhere, will be found to be an indispensable link in a long and complex chain that may open new worlds in theory and practice.”

These long and complex chains have developed in numerous and astounding ways through research at the Institute, from the development of programmable computers to uncovering the deep symmetries of nature to advances in societal understanding and historical practice. This is due in large part to the freedom that Faculty and Members at the Institute experience—an independence enabled by the generosity of our founders and subsequent benefactors for which we are immensely grateful.

Einstein was one of the first in a long line of distinguished Institute scientists and scholars who have produced a body of knowledge of the physical world and of humanity that has prompted technological and cultural advances. Yet the Institute’s remarkable history does not seem to weigh heavily on current scholars and scientists. Instead, the atmosphere focuses on the present where every twist and hairpin bend changes our view. What do we know? What do we yet need to understand? How should we try to comprehend it? Fundamental research at the Institute furthers our grasp of a world of diverse facts, structures, ideas, and cultures. We share the conviction of our founders that such unrestricted deep thinking will change this world, but where and how is always a surprise.

Scholars working at a table in front of a large chalkboard full of calculations.

Fundamentally Curious

Explore firsthand accounts of research and questions posed by IAS scientists and scholars. From art history to string theory, from moral anthropology to the long-term fate of the universe, contributions span the last decade to the research of today.

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