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.

In November, out of the blue, I received a letter from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Nothing about the envelope suggested that the letter inside would be important. It was an ordinary white office envelope with Institute for...

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...

Einstein, Plumbers, and McCarthyism

By History Working Group

Einstein’s actions did not by themselves cause McCarthy’s downfall. But they certainly facilitated it, by reaffirming essential principles that date back to the Enlightenment, and by empowering many others to keep up the continuing fight to protect democracy.

The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition

By Sabine Schmidtke

The most recent initiative to preserve the Zaydi manuscript culture is "The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition (ZMT): A Digital Portal,” a joint project initiated by the Institute for Advanced Study in partnership with the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library in Minnesota.

Clifford Geertz on America and Islam

By Clifford Geertz

The American idea of Islam, various, irregular, and charged with foreboding, is being built up at a time when the American idea of America is itself the subject of no little doubt and dispute, and the country as a whole seems embarked on a disconsonant and quarrelsome course.

The People of Monotheism and Justice: Muʿtazilism in Islam and Judaism

By Sabine Schmidtke

Why did Jewish thinkers in the tenth century start to adopt rationalist doctrines?

A World of Emotions: The Making of an Exhibition

By Angelos Chaniotis

What are the means through which ancient artists represented the emotions of gods, mythical heroes, and “real” people? How were images and texts exploited to arouse emotions in an ancient (and modern) audience?

Entanglement and the Geometry of Spacetime

By Juan Maldacena

When one considers black holes as quantum mechanical objects, an important feature arises: "entangled" microstates. Can entanglement give rise to wormholes connecting far away regions in space?

In Search of an Identity

By Angelos Chaniotis

There is no such thing as a homogeneous European culture, with which the Bosnian Muslims, the third-generation Turks in Germany, the Greeks, the Roma, the French Jews, the Basques, and the Laps––not to mention the Indians and Pakistanis living in London––can identify themselves.

Claude Shannon: Father of the Information Age

By Sergio Verdú

Former Member Claude Shannon's "A Mathematical Theory of Communication” created the field of information theory in 1948. Beyond its impact on communications technology, Shannon’s work has had tremendous impact on computer science and engineering, artificial intelligence and probability and statistics.

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. . . . 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.” 

Preventing Cervical Cancer

By Donald W Light

We will not know for years how effectively HPV vaccines actually prevent cervical and related cancers or how the population of viral serotypes adapts. Meantime, however, we now know that prices can be much lower and still profitable for countries where most of the cancer, hospitalizations, and deaths occur. 

Women in French Politics: Rank and File More Often Than Leaders

By Anne-Claire Defossez

It is indeed the case that, after centuries of political ostracism, women have recently become more present in French political life . . . but the presence of a few prominent female figures and seemingly favorable statistics do not tell the whole story. 

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 Professor Jean Bourgain and the exceptional range, depth, and power of his mathematical work

Mathematics

A Celebration of Mathematics and Computer Science

Videos of talks by mathematicians celebrating Professor Avi Wigderson's work, impact, and collaborations

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.