ABOUT THE FIELDS INSTITUTE

April 17, 2014

The Fields Institute is a center for mathematical research activity - a place where mathematicians from Canada and abroad, from business, industry and financial institutions, can come together to carry out research and formulate problems of mutual interest. Our mission is to provide a supportive and stimulating environment for mathematics innovation and education. The Fields Institute promotes mathematical activity in Canada and helps to expand the application of mathematics in modern society.

 

Background

Founded in 1992, the Fields Institute was initially located at the University of Waterloo. Since 1995, it has occupied a building designed and constructed for Institute activities on the campus of the University of Toronto.

Our mission is to enhance mathematical activity in Canada by bringing together mathematicians from Canada and abroad, and by promoting contact and collaboration between professional mathematicians and the increasing numbers of users of mathematics. Thus the Institute supports research in pure and applied mathematics, statistics and computer science, as well as collaboration between mathematicians and those applying mathematics in areas such as engineering, the physical and biological sciences, medicine, economics and finance, telecommunications and information systems.

The Fields Institute environment is designed to support and enhance all of these activities. Office space is provided for as many as 66 visitors; a supportive staff enables program participants to devote most of their energies to research; and full access to the excellent mathematics collection at the University of Toronto is provided.

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Activities

The primary activities at the Institute are its thematic programs, each lasting one or two semesters. They involve participants from Canada and around the world, including graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and more senior and well-established scientists. The potential topics of thematic programs embrace all of the mathematical sciences, as well as any areas in which mathematics is, or can be, applied.

The principal purpose of thematic programs is to draw together researchers with common interests for collaboration. Regular workshops, conferences and advanced graduate courses are arranged by the program organizers to support these goals.

In addition to thematic programs, the Institute supports programs of shorter duration such as workshops and conferences, short courses, and summer schools, as well as regularly scheduled seminars. Such activities are sometimes held off-site.

Applications for support of any program can be made through our Proposals and Applications page. Proposals are reviewed and approved by the Institute's Scientific Advisory Panel and the Directorate.

Of special note are the Coxeter and Distinguished Lecture Series, the Distinguished Lecture Series in Statistical Science, and the CRM-Fields-PIMS Prize jointly awarded by the Centre de recherches Mathématiques, the Fields Institute and the Pacific Insitute for the Mathematical Sciences. Nominations for these lectures can also be made on the Proposals and Applications page.

The Commercial and Industrial Mathematics program (CIM) acts as a bridge connecting the mathematics community and businesses that benefit from research in the mathematical sciences. Thus the CIM program seeks to communicate results in mathematics to the business community, and conversely to create an awareness among mathematicians of the needs of that community. The institute receives advice about CIM activities from its Industrial Advisory Board.

The Institute is also committed to Mathematics Education. The focus of these efforts is the Mathematics Education Forum, which holds monthly meetings at the Institute to discuss issues of mathematics education at all levels. The Forum brings together participants from high schools, school boards, faculties of education, mathematics departments in universities and colleges, and the private sector. One of the major contributions of the Forum to education was the 1998 revision of the Ontario high school mathematics curriculum, carried out through a contract of the Fields Institute with the provincial Department of Education.

A more detailed view of Institute activities is to be found on the Programs and Activities page.

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John Charles Fields

The Fields Institute is named after the Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields (1863-1932). Fields was a pioneer and visionary who recognized the scientific, educational, and economic value of research in the mathematical sciences. Fields spent many of his early years in Berlin and (to a lesser extent) in Paris and Göttingen (Germany), the principal mathematical centres of Europe of that time. These experiences led him, after his return to Canada, to work for the public support of university research, which he did very successfully.He also organized and presided over the 1924 meeting of the International Congress of Mathematicians in Toronto. This quadrennial meeting was, and still is, the major meeting of the mathematics world.

There is no Nobel Prize in mathematics, and Fields felt strongly that there should be a comparable award to recognize the most outstanding current research in mathematics. With this in mind, he established the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics, which, contrary to his personal directive, is now known as the Fields Medal. Information on Fields Medal winners can be found through the International Mathematical Union, which chooses the quadrennial recipients (four, in recent years) of the prize.

Michael Monastyrsky delivered a lecture at the Fields Symposium, held in Toronto in June 2000, on the effect of Fields Medalists on 20th century mathematics and physics, "The Legacy of John Charles Fields". More recently, Marcus Emmanuel Barnes has published a thesis entitled "John Charles Fields: A Sketch of His Life and Mathematical Work."

Fields' name was given to the Institute in recognition of his seminal contributions to world mathematics and his work on behalf of high level mathematical scholarship in Canada. The Institute aims to carry on the work of Fields and to promote the wider use and understanding of mathematics in Canada.

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Sponsors

Major funding is provided by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and the federal Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

Our eight principal sponsoring universities are: Carleton University, McMaster University, Queen's University (beginning April 1, 2014), the University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo, Western University, and York University. Current benefits for Principal Sponsoring Universities are described here.

In addition there are sixteen affiliate universities: Brock University, Lakehead University, Iowa State University, Nipissing University, the Royal Military College of Canada, Ryerson University, the University of Guelph, the University of Houston, the Université Lille 1, the University of Manitoba, the University of Maryland, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Windsor, Trent University, and Wilfrid Laurier University. Current benefits for Affiliate Universities are described here.

The Corporate Affiliate Members of the Fields Institute are: IBM Canada, QWeMA Group Inc., R2 Financial Technologies Inc., Sigma Analysis and Management, and Synchrony Consulting Services Inc. Current benefits for Corporate Affiliate Members are described here.

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