Institute for Advanced Study

postgraduate center in Princeton, New Jersey, US

The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, New Jersey, in the United States, is an independent, postdoctoral research center for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry founded in 1930 by American educator Abraham Flexner, together with philanthropists Louis Bamberger and Caroline Bamberger Fuld. The IAS is perhaps best known as the academic home of Albert Einstein, John von Neumann and Kurt Gödel, after their immigration to the United States. Although it is close to and collaborates with Princeton University, Rutgers, and other nearby institutions, it is not part of any university or federal agency and does not charge tuition or fees.

Fuld Hall at the Institute for Advanced Study

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  • The Institute for Advanced Study is one of the few institutions in the world where the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake is the ultimate raison d’être. Speculative research, the kind that is fundamental to the advancement of human understanding of the world of nature and of humanity, is not a product that can be made to order. Rather, like artistic creativity, it benefits from a special environment.
  • While practical benefits often result from pure academic research at the most fundamental level, such benefits are not guaranteed and cannot be predicted; nor need they be seen as the ultimate goal. Ventures into unknown territory inevitably involve an element of risk, and scientists and scholars are rarely motivated by the thought of an end product. Rather, they are moved by a creative curiosity that is the hallmark of academic inquiry.
  • The Institute for Advanced Study is devoted to the encouragement, support and patronage of learning–of science, in the old broad, undifferentiated sense of the word. The Institute partakes of the character both of a university and of a research institute; but it also differs in significant ways from both. It is unlike a university, for instance, in its small size... It is unlike a university in that it has no formal curriculum, no scheduled courses of instruction... It is unlike a research institute in that its purposes are broader; it supports many separate fields of study... The Institute, in short, is devoted to learning, in the double sense of the continued education of the individual and of the intellectual enterprise on which he is embarked.
  • There really isn’t anywhere like the Institute. Because of its very strong postdoctoral programs in astrophysics, physics, mathematics, and other disciplines, it has been a kind of funnel through which a large fraction of all of the most productive researchers in many of the physical sciences have passed.
  • My life was fashioned by the Institute. There is no question that my whole career would have been completely different if I had not had the remarkable opportunity of participating in a place that is so single-mindedly determined to let your own imagination flourish.
    • Raoul Bott, Hungarian mathematician known for numerous basic contributions to geometry. Autobiographical Sketch, in Raoul Bott: Collected Papers, Vol. 1, Birkhäuser, Boston, 1994, 3-9.
  • I am not unaware of the fact that I have sketched an educational Utopia. I have deliberately hitched the Institute to a star; it would be wrong to begin with any other ambition or aspiration.
  • There has been no other place in the world from which, scholar for scholar and square foot for square foot, more and finer scholarship has emerged over these past forty years than from these surrounding walls.
  • The Institute for Advanced Study has achieved a position that is unrivaled in the world of science and scholarship. In all fields where it has been engaged, its contributions have set the standards against which other contributions may be measured.
    • Björn Wittrock, Principal, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study. In the IAS Book 2013 p 42
  • I entered Princeton University as a graduate student in 1959, when the Department of Mathematics was housed in the old Fine Hall. This legendary facility was marvellous in stimulating interaction among the graduate students and between the graduate students and the faculty. The faculty offered few formal courses, and essentially none of them were at the beginning graduate level. Instead the students were expected to learn the necessary background material by reading books and papers and by organising seminars among themselves. It was a stimulating environment but not an easy one for a student like me, who had come with only a spotty background. Fortunately I had an excellent group of classmates, and in retrospect I think the "Princeton method" of that period was quite effective.
    • Phillip A. Griffiths, American mathematician and former Director of the Institute for Advanced Study, In P. A. Griffiths, Introductory comments to Selecta, in M Cornalba, M L Green and W Schmid (eds.), Selected works of Phillip A Griffiths with commentary. Part 1 Analytic geometry (American Mathematical Society, Providence, RI; International Press, Somerville, MA, 2003), xiii-xiv.

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