Kurt Godel

Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor, gives a talk to incoming scholars on the history and mission of the Institute during Welcome Day on September 25, 2017. 

The Institute for Advanced Study came into being at the most inauspicious of times. Founded in the early years of the Great Depression, it took shape during the buildup to the Second World War and under the growing shadow of authoritarian regimes. Its first Director Abraham Flexner published his manifesto on the “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge” in October 1939, barely a month after the outbreak of hostilities in Europe. Surely this was a daunting moment to defend “the fearless and irresponsible thinker” and advocate for the free expression of knowledge and curiosity. 

In the beginning of the twentieth century, the University of Göttingen was one of the top research centers for mathematics in the world. The mathematician David Hilbert was a well-established professor there, and during the winter semester of...

During a visit to the Institute in the 1970s, the mathematician John Horton Conway, then of Cambridge, spent the ten most interesting minutes of his life. Invited to deliver a talk to the undergraduate math club at Princeton, Conway made his way...

In 1900, David Hilbert published a list of twenty-three open questions in mathematics, ten of which he presented at the International Congress of Mathematics in Paris that year. Hilbert had a good nose for asking mathematical questions as the...

Kurt Gödel’s achievement in modern logic is singular and monumental—indeed it is more than a monument, it is a landmark which will remain visible far in space and time.
—John von Neumann

Upon presenting Kurt Gödel (1906-1978...