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IHES EURO-PROGRAMME Résumé de rapport

Project ID: 505493
Financé au titre de: FP6-INFRASTRUCTURES
Pays: France

Final Report Summary - IHES EURO-PROGRAMME (European Visitors Programme at the Institut des Hautes ¿tudes Scientifiques to Conduct Advanced Research in Mathematics ... and other theoretical sciences)

The concept behind the project was to provide access to scientists from Europe to a scientific institution, the contractor namely Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHÉS), which is a world reference in its area. This quality has been confirmed through a number of further recognition given to members of the permanent staff of the Institute during the time the contract was running (Janos Bolyai Medal awarded to Mikhail Gromov, Gold Medal of CNRS to Alain Connes, Hermann Weyl Prize to Nikita Nekrasov, Dargelos Prize to Christophe Breuil, Crafoord Prize to Maxim Kontsevich) but also through the Seki Takakazu Prize awarded to the Institute as a whole by the Japanese Mathematical Society.

Exchanging ideas in planned or unexpected ways, sharing discoveries, getting inspired by new ideas, disseminating the fruit of their work at IHÉS throughout the world, these activities all represent different aspects of the mission scientists affiliated and associated with IHÉS are involved in, and contribute to the international development of fundamental research at the highest level. The 250 or so researchers who come for extended stays at IHÉS from more than 30 countries year after year greatly enhance its influence and reach. In this way, IHÉS continues to play a key role in stimulating and developing fundamental research the world over. Providing privileged access to researchers from Europe to this international visitor programme was the object of this programme, and was carried out for about one hundred of them.

The main achievements have been ensured by preprint and publications in which the author has been asked to put the following mention:
'This work has been achieved thanks to the support of the European Commission through the contract No RITA-CT-2004-505493 of the Sixth Framework Programme called Transnational Access implemented as Specific Support Action.'
This mention also appears in IHÉS preprints written by European users during and/or following their stay at the infrastructure.

In view of the number of projects conducted, it is of course difficult to give a representative overview of what has been achieved. Year after year, some of the most noticeable accomplishments have been singled out in the reports. Actually, what is quite remarkable is the variety of areas of mathematics and theoretical physics to which the projects can be related, and the repeated comments that one can read in the reports of the fellows that the Institute provided great opportunities for informative exchanges and willingness on the part of the permanent staff to get involved in the work of visitors. What may be the most striking feature is the multiplicity of sources of inspiration for the works done, some theoretical physics works relying deeply on some mathematical contributions, and also within mathematics proper some achievements mixing ideas and techniques borrowed from very different parts of the discipline. This is of course not a surprise as the life at the Institute is organised in order to maximize the possibilities of contacts between the researchers. This is the basis for inviting researchers with many different specialities to share ideas and points of view in a very open fashion, something that visitors to the Institute particularly appreciate.

The European dimension was present at IHÉS since the creation by its founder, Léon Motchane, who wanted to 'create a European counterpart to the Institute of Advanced Study' in Princeton. Its faculty has been almost entirely European, and its second Director, who held the position from 1972 to 1985, was Dutch and did a lot to broaden the support of the Institute by winning the commitment of a number of research agencies in European countries. For more than 25 years, the Institute has indeed benefitted from the support of several research agencies and / or academies operating in European countries.

This contract is the second one IHÉS received from the European Commission for funding the part of its operation consisting of hosting a large number of scientists who come to the institute to pursue their own project in an environment that is stimulating and conducive to exchange. Other European Commission (EC) support came through Marie Curie post-doctoral fellowships, which happened to be attributed to young researchers who wanted to spent time at IHÉS.

As far as the impact of this contract on the running of the institute goes, one can say that it certainly helped the infrastructure host more visitors from European universities and research institutions. It also improved the level of the support given to the visitors who were supported by this programme by covering their travel expenses, something IHÉS limited resources do not allow as a general rule. It has also increased the IHÉS visibility through the systematic distribution of posters. Applications are now coming almost exclusively through the institute's website. Alhtough IHÉS has a worldwide visibility and attracts more and more researchers from many different countries, the fact that IHÉS could mention that it is supported as a 'large European infrastructure for research' did certainly help in that respect.

As far as the impact of the programme on scientific research goes, the following key point has to be taken into account: more and more often, research is financed through short term projects with the obligation of providing regularly deliveries. For mathematical research this is a very dangerous path, as many of the most important discoveries happen because precisely the planned route did not go through, at least in the way one wanted to go through them. Therefore, having some places, where the initiative is completely left to scientists, and offering them the possibility of confronting their views in the most open fashion, and without the limitation of subdisciplines has become crucial for the sake of the future development of the mathematical sciences. Along the same lines, this is also an efficient way to introduce people to a truly interdisciplinary work without having a priori restrictions on the profiles of people with whom the discussion is pursued. This programme has tried - and from the scientists who took part in it say - seems to have precisely contributed to this.

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