The Fields Institute is a centre for mathematical research activity.
The Fields Institute is committed to provide a supportive and rich environment for mathematics innovation and education. We promote collaboration between mathematicians and those working in other disciplines such as engineering, the physical and biological sciences, medicine, economics, finance, telecommunications and information systems.
Founded in 1992, the Fields Institute was initially located at the University of Waterloo. Since 1995, it has occupied a purpose-built building on the St. George Campus of the University of Toronto.
The Institute is internationally renowned for strengthening collaboration, innovation, and learning in mathematics and across a broad range of disciplines. Annual programming includes a full slate of long- and short-term events, such as specialized, six-month-long thematic programs, multi-day workshops and conferences, public lectures, recurring seminars, outreach activities, and start-up incubation. The Fields Institute promotes mathematical activity in Canada, helps to expand the application of mathematics in modern society, and makes mathematics accessible and engaging for all audiences.
The Institute's environment is designed to support and enhance all of these activities. Office space is provided for about 60 visiting members and for a number of incubated companies. A supportive staff enables program participants to devote most of their energies to research and visitors have access to most of the facilities at the University of Toronto.
The primary activities at the Institute are its thematic and focus programs, each lasting for one to six months. 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 and focus 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 and focus 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, the Institute supports activities of shorter duration such as workshops and conferences, regularly scheduled seminars series, special lecture series, courses and summer schools, and outreach events. Such activities are sometimes held off-site.
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.
The Fields Institute is funded by both the Federal and Provincial governments as well as nine Principal Sponsoring Universities (PSU), 10 Affiliate Universities, and several Corporate Members and Affiliates. Fields also partners with various mathematics institutions both in Canada and worldwide to bring the highest quality mathematical programming to the community.
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, 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 of the prize.
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.