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.

One of the key scientific contributions of the 20th century, Claude Shannon's "A Mathematical Theory of Communication” created the field of information theory in 1948. In addition to the impact of information theory on communications technology,...

Differential privacy disentangles learning about a dataset as a whole from learning about an individual data contributor. Just now entering practice on a global scale, the demand for advanced differential privacy techniques and knowledge of basic...

In 2016, Avi Wigderson, Herbert H. Maass Professor in the School of Mathematics, celebrates his sixtieth birthday. The Institute for Advanced Study hosted a conference in honor of this occasion from October 5 through October 8, 2016, with...

The Institute hosted the Beyond Endoscopy conference, led by Professor Emeritus Robert P. Langlands, on September 30 and October 1, 2016. View talks from the conference below. 


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On a beautiful overlook near the university, a middle-aged man is enjoying the view of the majestic Fjord. Judging from his clothing, he is a stonemason from the quarry just below him. But actually, he is a professor at the university who often...

Explore a collection of Robert Langlands’s papers, as well as some of his lectures and correspondence, on topics ranging from functoriality, representation theory, and base change to endoscopy, Shimura varieties, percolation, and geometric theory...

During the 2015-16 academic year, the School of Mathematics hosted a program on the topic of geometric structures in three dimensions. This article is an adaptation of a talk I gave in fall 2015, as part of the School's biweekly "Mathematical...

This therefore, is mathematics: she reminds you of the invisible forms of the soul; she gives light to her own discoveries; she awakens the mind and purifies the intellect; she brings light to our intrinsic ideas; she abolishes oblivion and...

Edward Nelson, Member in the Schools of Mathematics (1956–59, 79–80) and Natural Sciences (1963–64, 67–68, 73–74) and Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University until his death in 2014, was an original thinker best known...

Jean Bourgain, IBM von Neumann Professor in the School of Mathematics, was bestowed the title of Baron by the Belgian government in July 2015. In association with the honor, Bourgain designed a coat of arms inscribed "In hope against hope."...

The Odd Couple: Quasars and Black Holes

By Scott Tremaine

Laboratory study of a macroscopic black hole is impossible with current or foreseeable technology, so the only way to test these predictions of Einstein’s theory is to find black holes in the heavens. Not surprisingly, isolated black holes are difficult to see. Not only are they black, they are also very small: a black hole with the mass of the Sun is only a few kilometers in diameter.

A New Era of Gravitational-Wave Astronomy

The first detection of gravitational waves brought with it spacetime ripples, black-hole collisions, and surprising systems.

How Our Brains Operate

By John J. Hopfield

Tornadoes are a high-level description of the motions of enormous numbers of interacting molecules. We want to understand how mind emerges from brain, just as we understand how tornadoes emerge from molecules.

The Appeal of Drones

By Hugh Gusterson

It is important to understand that the drone is not just a new machine that has been slotted into existing war plans in a space formerly occupied by other kinds of airpower. 

Do We Understand Putin’s Russia?

By Jonathan Haslam

We should not assume that making sense of post-Soviet Russia was ever going to be easy. Great Powers that lose empires bear grudges, and the speed with which an empire is lost can exacerbate the problem. No one can expect that a powerful country run by a former secret policeman is going to operate by the same rules of the game to which we are accustomed. Quite simply, what may seem sensible or rational to ourselves is irrelevant.

World Disorder Lecture Series: Lawless Economy?

By Bill Browder

I got the telephone call at 7:45 a.m. the next morning that Sergei Magnitsky had been murdered. . . . I thought they had to do something. Instead, Putin circled the wagons, exonerated every single person involved, and gave state honors and promotions to the people most complicit. It became obvious we wouldn’t get justice in Russia, so we decided to get justice outside of Russia. 

The Most Wanted Man in China

By Li-Zhi Fang

As of 1985 it was still not entirely safe to write about cosmology. In May of that year, I published an article in the Chinese journal Science in which I introduced quantum cosmology and referred in passing to the view that “the universe arose from nothing.” 

Volumes of Hyperbolic Link Complements

By Ian Agol

To visualize what is meant by three-dimensional hyperbolic geometry, a rich area of interest for mathematicians and physicists, consider a chunk of glass sitting on a table, such that the speed of light n is proportional to the height above the table. 

Mathematics

What Can We Do with a Quantum Computer?

By Andris Ambainis

In natural sciences, Nature has given us the world, and we just discovered its laws. In computers, we can stuff the laws into it and create the world.

The Work of Robert Langlands

Explore a collection of Robert Langlands’s papers, as well as some of his lectures and correspondence, on topics ranging from functoriality, representation theory, and Shimura varieties to endoscopy, percolation, and geometric theory. 

Mathematics

Analysis and Beyond

Talks by Faculty, Members, and colleagues honoring Jean Bourgain and the exceptional range, depth, and power of his mathematical work.

The Smallest Particles: What Do They Reveal?

By Robbert Dijkgraaf

One of the most amazing things we discovered in science is that everything is made of small particles. It's the properties of these molecules, atoms, nuclei, and elementary particles that allow us to answer ­simple questions like: why is grass green? But how small are these particles? And how did we discover them? 

Fundamental Physics in the Twenty-first Century

By Nima Arkani-Hamed

On the direction of fundamental physics in coming years and decades, including efforts to replace the concept of spacetime and understand how the macroscopic world is formed by microscopic quantum mechanical laws

NatiFest: Celebrating the Science of Nathan Seiberg

View talks from the conference celebrating Professor Nathan Seiberg’s sixtieth birthday and his twentieth year as a Professor at IAS.

The Advent and Fallout of EPR

By Kelly Devine Thomas

One day, at the [Institute’s] traditional 3 o’clock tea, Rosen mentioned to Einstein a fundamental issue of interpretation related to entangled wave-functions. Einstein immediately saw the implications for his long-standing disagreement with [Niels] Bohr. As they discussed the problem, Boris Podolsky joined the conversation, and later proposed to write an article. Einstein acquiesced.

The Veil and French Republicanism

By Joan Wallach Scott

From its first usage in 1871 by anti-clerical campaigners, the word laïcité has been a polemical term; then it was aimed at ending the public power of the Catholic Church, now it is used to define a Frenchness that excludes Muslims. 

The Left Side of History

By Kristen Rogheh Ghodsee

Since the global financial crisis in 2008, countries once locked behind the Iron Curtain have increasingly drifted to the far right. . . . Politicians and scholars strategically deploy historical knowledge as a tool to quash growing domestic opposition to the economic upheavals and insecurities of the post-socialist era.