Oswald Veblen

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. 

To Albert Einstein, she was “the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began.” More straightforward in his praise, Einstein’s fellow Professor at the...

In 1916, social theorist Thorstein Veblen called for the post-war institution of “academic houses of refuge... where teachers and students of all nationalities, including Americans with the rest, may pursue their chosen work.” In 1923,...

Albert Einstein finished his general theory of relativity in November 1915, and in the hundred years since, its influence has been profound, dramatically influencing the direction of physics, cosmology, and mathematics. The theory upended Isaac...

It has been said that the goals of modern mathematics are recon­struction and development.1 The unifying conjectures between number theory and representation theory that Robert Langlands, Professor Emeritus in the School of Mathematics...

There was no turning back, once word leaked out that the Institute was looking for a home. . . . Veblen found the combination of the Bamberger fortune and the depressed land prices of the 1930s a potent mix. “There is no educational institution in the United States which has not in the beginning made the mistake of acquiring too little rather than too much land,” he wrote to Flexner.

What explains “the unreasonable effectiveness” of mathematics, as the late Princeton University physicist Eugene Wigner phrased it, in answering questions about the real world?

Natural phenomena could have been structured in a way...

Seventy-five years ago, after nearly four years of discussion and planning, the Institute for Advanced Study opened on Monday, October 2, 1933. The Director, Abraham Flexner, called together the Faculty of its only school, the School of...

More than seventy-five years ago, Founding Director Abraham Flexner sought to create with the Institute for Advanced Study a haven where “scholars and scientists may regard the world and its phenomena as their laboratory, without being carried...