A single scientific program: curiosity. A single selection criterion: excellence.
The Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (IHES) was created in 1958 at the instigation of Léon Motchane. A businessman with a love of mathematics, his ambition was to create a research centre that would become the European counterpart of the famous Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, United States.
Since its creation, the Institute has developed in line with the vision of its founder. It has become a reference point for the international scientific community and achieved undeniable success in mathematics and theoretical physics. The atmosphere of free discussion among scientists, whatever their specialty or background, has also become one of the characteristics that make it so attractive.
IHES as an institution has had the legal status of a foundation in the public interest since 1981.
“Art. 1: The aim of the Foundation known as ‘Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques’ is to enable and encourage theoretical scientific research in the following fields: Mathematics, Theoretical Physics, Methodology of Human Sciences and any other related theoretical discipline”
“Art. 2: The Foundation’s activity consists mainly in providing the Institute’s professors and researchers, both permanent and invited, with the resources required to undertake disinterested research: a centre comprising offices, meeting rooms, a library, a conference centre and a housing residence for visiting researchers.”
(Extract from the IHES statutes, 1958)
A Message from the director
“The Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques is an international mathematics and theoretical physics research centre. Free of teaching duties and administrative tasks, its professors and invited researchers carry out their work in complete independence and total freedom, at the highest international level.
Ever since it was created, IHES has cultivated interdisciplinarity. The constant dialogue between mathematicians and theoretical physicists has led to particularly rich interactions. In more recent years, IHES has turned its attention to the interface between mathematics and biology and the theoretical issues arising from high technology.
A limited number of permanent professors and researchers from prominent French organisations (Collège de France, CEA and CNRS) are based at IHES. These very senior scientists attract some 200 visiting researchers each year, who also benefit from the high concentration of mathematicians present in close proximity to the Institute. The scientific emulation resulting from the interactions between researchers in different disciplines and from different countries contributes to the vitality of basic research globally.
The Institute’s originality also lies in its capacity to take scientific risks and I would like to thank here all those who have helped us maintain this unique model. IHES continues to seek new partners to share in what is both its essence and its success: giving the most prominent and the most promising researchers an opportunity to travel down as yet unexplored intellectual avenues.”
Emmanuel Ullmo, mathematician and IHES Director
One figure gives an idea of IHÉS’ rank: of the ten past or current permanent professors at IHÉS, seven have been awarded the Fields medal, the highest distinction in mathematics:
- René Thom (1958)
- Alexander Grothendieck (1966)
- Pierre Deligne (1978)
- Alain Connes (1982)
- Jean Bourgain (1994)
- Maxim Kontsevich (1998)
- Laurent Lafforgue (2002)