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.

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Who makes a paper every week,
and every month a new technique,
and founds new branches every year,
and does not know the sense of fear?
And legends—whom d'you hear about?
And if you met him you'd be proud.
Of course...

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There are two labyrinths of the human mind: one concerns the composition of the continuum, and the other the nature of freedom, and both spring from the same source—the infinite. —Baron von Leibniz...

I think many of the people who are interested in congratulating me on the Abel Prize are doing so because I’m a woman and I’m the first woman to get it. 

And I can’t help resist telling the...

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On March 19, 2019, the IAS community gathered to celebrate 2019 Abel Prize laureate Karen Uhlenbeck with a reception in her honor.

Listen to remarks on Uhlenbeck's work and influence made by speakers...

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On February 22, 2019, Visiting Professor in the School of Mathematics Sanjeev Arora hosted a day of talks titled "Deep Learning: Alchemy or Science?"...

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On November 8, 2010, Sir Michael Atiyah, Professor (1969–72) in the School of Mathematics, gave a seminar on "Beauty and Truth in Mathematics: A Tribute to Albert Einstein and...

In 2017–18, I led a special program about analysis and topology on locally symmetric spaces as a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the School of Mathematics. Locally symmetric spaces are the home of the Langlands program—a set of...

"It's kind of like physics in its formative stages—Newton asking what makes the apple fall down," says Sanjeev Arora, Visiting Professor in the School of Mathematics, trying to explain the current scientific...

Published here are three slightly edited excerpts from "Mathematics and Computation," a new book by Avi Wigderson, Herbert H. Maass Professor in the School of Mathematics, soon to be published by Princeton University Press (...

Robbert Dijkgraaf, Richard Zemel, and Sanjeev Arora in a panel discussion

As part of the 2017–18 Theoretical Machine Learning Lecture Series at IAS, Visiting Professor in the School of Mathematics Sanjeev Arora organized a public lecture series, which included talks by him and...

Ideas

“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.”

Historical Studies

Cord Whitaker

A conversation on the current racial unrest, its place in the history of racism, and where we go from here

On February 13, 1960, students line the counter of a dime store in Greensboro, North Carolina, in protest of the store’s refusal to serve them.

By Michael Walzer

Every political activist who has fought for a good cause dreams of a chance to fight again. We live, right now, in a bad time; American politics has not been this ugly since the Joe McCarthy years or the Red Scare and anti-immigrant frenzy of the early 1920s. We need movements of resistance, and we need citizen activists who remember the old labor union imperative: Organize!

By George Dyson

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.” 

Social Science

By Ruha Benjamin

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.

Historical Studies

By Monica H. Green

The Institute is a remarkably modest place. Like all Members, I was provided a lovely apartment, a simple office (with computer), access to libraries, lunch in the dining hall, tea in the afternoon. So how does new knowledge come out of such a simple mix? 

By Joan Wallach Scott

Some of the reasons usually offered to explain the persistence of gender inequality include large abstractions: patriarchy, capitalism, male self-interest, misogyny, religion. These are, of course, useful categories to work with, but none of them can account for how deep-rooted these inequalities are in our psyches, our cultures, and our politics. 

Mathematics

By Richard Taylor

One of the oldest subjects in mathematics is the study of Diophantine equations, i.e., the study of whole number (or fractional) solutions to polynomial equations. 

Natural Sciences

By Edward Witten

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.

Ideas

Robbert Dijkgraaf

Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor of the Institute for Advanced Study, and Joanne Lipman, IAS’s Peretsman Scully Distinguished Journalism Fellow discuss the coronavirus epidemic, its impact on IAS, and the elevated role of science in society.

Historical Studies

"Plague in an Ancient City" by Michael Sweerts

Is history repeating itself? Angelos Chaniotis, Professor of Ancient History and Classics in the School of Historical Studies, talks with Joanne Lipman, IAS Distinguished Journalism Fellow, about the parallels between ancient plagues and today’s Covid pandemic.

Artist's representation of COVID-19

Professor Emeritus Arnold J. Levine spoke with IAS's Joanne Lipman about the novel coronavirus outbreak, how it compares to previous pandemics, and potential therapies in the works that may help stop the spread.