Modern times

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Foundation of the Department of Mathematics

Until the 1960s the small group of mathematics professors had no need for a formal framework to guide their activities and decisions within the ETH. With the group's growing complexity in the 1970s, however, the necessity for such a framework increased. As a result, the Department of Mathematics was formed in 1976 as part of the "Abteilung für Mathematik und Physik".

Forschungsinstitut für Mathematik

Thanks to favourable financial and political conditions, the Department of Mathematics took on additional tasks without compromising classical mathematics (algebra, number theory, analysis, differential geometry, topology). They were even be greatly expanded in the 1970s and 1980s. Positive development in the fields of classical mathematics was largely due to the Forschungsinstitut für Mathematik (FIM). Under a series of far-sighted directors, the FIM has evolved to become a research institute of high international standing. After Beno Eckmann, the poste of FIM director was taken up by Jürgen Moser (1928-1999, in office 1980-1995), Armand Borel (1923-2003, in office 1955-1957 and 1983-1986), Alain-Sol Sznitman and Marc Burger, and is currently held by Tristan Rivière.


With Paul Embrechts' appointment in 1989, financial mathematics has become an established field at the ETH, leading to the founding of the RiskLab in 1994.

ICM for the third time in Zurich

It is a testimony to the international significance of mathematics at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich that the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) was held in Zurich for the third time in 1994. Jürgen Moser was at that time president of the International Mathematical Union, and Beno Eckmann was elected honorary president of the Congress.

Zurich Graduate School in Mathematics

In 2003 the Department of Mathematics and the Institute of Mathematics of the University of Zurich (I-MATH) decided to found the Zurich Graduate School in Mathematics (ZGSM). Since the first applications in 2005, the number of excellent applications from all over the world has steadily increased. The ZGSM offers internationally recognized education on doctoral degree level in all major areas of mathematics and aims to extend and enrich the sense of community of its students.

ETH Institute for Theoretical Studies

The Institute for Theoretical Studies (ETH-ITS) was set up in 2013. It is an interdisciplinary research centre for the fields of mathematics, theoretical physics and theoretical computer science. It is currently under the direction of Giovanni Felder.

FIM and ETH-ITS offer the best conditions for cutting-edge research. Together with the Graduate School they excel at teaching up to the doctoral degree level.

The international reputation of the Department of Mathematics has been further enhanced in recent decades. The long-standing deliberate recruitment procedure of professors, which aims at top-level international scientists, undoubtedly contributed significantly to this success. Since the appointment of Richard Dedekind in 1857 until today this has been a consistent procedure throughout the history of mathematics at the ETH Zurich.

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