Ideas

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.

Ask yourself this question: Can one hear the shape of a drum?

In this episode of Scholar Spotlight, mathematician and number theorist Terrence Blackman discusses his quest to expand understanding in the realm of spectroscopy. Learn about the strides Terrence is making in both spectral geometry and in surfacing the important work of African American mathematicians through his upcoming book showcasing their contributions to the field.

Join Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor, as he opens the jewel box of scholarship at the Institute to explore what drives its talented members. Learn why free-floating, open-ended research is more important than ever as the world seeks new solutions and breakthrough ideas.

In 2020–21, Allen Yuan, Visitor in the School of Mathematics and a recent graduate from MIT, is studying problems in homotopy theory and algebraic topology.


How do you describe your work to friends and family?

I like to give a simple...

Antiquities in the Dining Hall

Hanging on the walls of Simons Hall are four late antique mosaics. Their migration from the floors of private houses in a Near Eastern city under Roman rule to a research institute in North America is a story of affluence, oblivion, and rediscovery.

Race After Technology

Like everyone who lives in a heavily policed neighborhood, I grew up with a keen sense of being watched. Family, friends, and neighbors—all of us caught up in a carceral web, in which other people’s safety and freedom are predicated on our containment.

Knots and Quantum Theory

Much of the theory of knots is best understood in the framework of 20th- and 21st-century developments in quantum physics. In other words, what really fascinates me are not the knots per se but the connections between the knots and quantum physics.

Q&A with Allen Yuan

Allen Yuan, Visitor in the School of Mathematics, describes his work to friends using "a simple-sounding fact that turns out to be justifiable with algebraic topology. For instance, 'If I throw a map of the United States on the ground, then one point on the map will land exactly on the place it represents.' If you think about trying to explain this, there’s something tantalizing and fundamental, yet flexible and hard to put your finger on it. I think this kind of feeling captures what my work is like."

Q&A with Natalie Paquette

Meet Natalie Paquette, a mathematical physicist in the School of Natural Sciences. "I like to think about the many bright spots in my day when I feel that I finally learn or understand something properly, get a satisfying answer to a computation, or become excited about a new idea." 

Islamic Manuscript Traditions

View a video in which Sabine Schmidtke, Professor of Islamic Intellectual History in the School of Historical Studies, discusses the vast, global, and indispensable Islamic manuscript tradition that is currently under immediate threat.

Mathematics in Mesopotamia

During my stay at the Institute, I studied little-known but amazing Old Babylonian tablets. These tablets show that the ancient scribes developed sophisticated tools for writing complex mathematical expressions and thought deeply about the nature of an equation.

The Idea of Wartime

Politicians and other leaders have regularly framed the current global health crisis as a period of “wartime.” In this 2012 article, Mary Dudziak, Member (2007–08) in the School of Social Science, examines the meaning of “wartime,” investigating the temporal element in warfare and the ways war structures our conception of time.

Founders’ Statement on America and Higher Learning

“We feel strongly that the spirit characteristic of America at its noblest, above all the pursuit of higher learning, cannot admit of any conditions as to personnel other than those designed to promote the objects for which this institution is established, and particularly with no regard whatever to accidents of race, creed, or sex.”

IAS Turns 90

Thank you to our scientists, scholars, and supporters for joining us in our mission to push knowledge forward!