The origin of the lectures dates back to Richard Courant’s 70th birthday on January 8, 1958, when his friends established a fund to endow a series of Courant Lectures to be delivered every two years. Kurt Friedrichs, who was chosen to present the gift, stated, “One may think that one of the roles mathematics plays in other sciences is that of providing law and order, rational organization and logical consistency, but that would not correspond to Courant's ideas. In fact, within mathematics proper Courant has always fought against overemphasis of the rational, logical, legalistic aspects of this science and emphasized the inventive and constructive, esthetic and even playful on the one hand and on the other hand those pertaining to reality. How mathematics can retain these qualities when it invades other sciences is an interesting and somewhat puzzling question. Here we hope our gift will help.”

In 2006, this venerable lecture series was re-invigorated through extremely generous endowment gifts from Dan Stroock, in memory of Alan M. Stroock, who was a long time supporter of NYU both financially and through his many years of service on the board of trustees, and by the Gopal Varadhan Foundation, established in memory of Mr.Varadhan, an alumnus of New York University, WSUC class of 1990, who lost his life in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

The first speaker, in 1959, was Eugene Wigner, one of the greatest mathematical physicists of the 20th century. His talk, “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences,” became quite famous and was subsequently published in Communications on Pure and Applied Mathematics.


The XXXth Courant Lectures
April 27-April 28, 2015
Professor Shafi GoldwasserACM Turing Award Laureate and the RSA Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science at MIT and Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at the Weizmann Institute

"The Cryptographic Lens" and "On Time and Order in Cryptography"


 The XXIXth Courant Lectures
April 24-April 25, 2014
Simon Donaldson, Imperial College London

"Kahler metrics and projective embedding I: approximation and asymptotics."

"Kahler metrics and projective embedding II: Gromov-Hausdorff limits."


The XXVIIIth Courant Lectures
April 25-April 26, 2013
Bernhard Schölkopf, Max Planck

"Statistical and Causal Learning" and "Inference of Cause and Effect"

The XXVIIth Courant Lectures
March 30 & April 2, 2012
Daniel Spielman, Yale
"Algorithms, Graph Theory, and Laplacian Linear Equations" and "Sparsification of Graphs and Approximation of Matrices"

The XXVIth Courant Lectures
April 7-8, 2011
Persi Diaconis, Stanford
"The Search for Randomness" and "Mathematical Analysis of 'Hit and Run' Algorithms"

The XXVth Courant Lectures
April 29-30, 2010
Alfio Quarteroni, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland and Politecnico di Milano, Italy
"Complexity reduction in the numerical approximation of Partial Differential Equations" and "Mathematical models for the cardiovascular system: analysis, numerical simulation, applications"

The XXIVth Courant Lectures
March 23-24, 2009
Emmanuel Candes, Caltech
“The amazing power of convex relaxation: the surprising story of compressive sensing” and “The amazing power of convex relaxation: the surprising story of matrix completion”

The XXIIIrd Courant Lectures
March 12-13, 2008
Jon Kleinberg, Cornell University
“The Geography of Social and Information Networks” and “Modeling Social and Economic Exchange in Networks”

The XXIInd Courant Lectures
March 23 & 26, 2007
Jean-Michel Bismut, Université Paris-Sud XI
“Traces, Determinants, and Probability Theory” and “Quillen metrics, the hypoelliptic Laplacian: the role and the functional integral”   

The XXIst Courant Lectures
November 20, 2003   
Barbara Keyfitz, University of Houston
“What Studying Quasi-Steady Problems Can Tell Us About Steady Transonic Flow”

Sergiu Klainerman, Princeton University
“On the Mathematics of General Relativity and Nonlinear Wave Equations”

The XXth Courant Lectures
April 2-3, 2003   
Pierre-Louis Lions, (University)
“Atomic Physics to Nonlinear Elasticity: A Mathematical Attempt On Stochastic Partial Differential Equations”

The XIXth Courant Lectures
March 26-27, 2002   
Lawrence C. Evans, University of California, Berkeley
“Some PDE methods for weak KAM theory: Introduction and Heuristics” and “Some PDE methods for weak KAM theory: Estimates and Applications”

The XVIIIth Courant Lectures
April 10-11, 2000   
Ivar Ekeland, Université Paris-Dauphiine
“Nonlinear Problems Arising from Economic Theory: The Inverse Problem for Demand Functions” and “Nonlinear Problems Arising from Economic Theory: Variational Problems with Convexity Constraints”

The XVIIth Courant Lectures
April 22, 1999   
Herbert B. Keller, California Institute of Technology
“A New Theory for Differential Algebraic Equations”

April 23, 1999   
Joseph B. Keller, Stanford University
“Option Pricing”

The XVIth Courant Lectures
April 22-23, 1998   
Paul Garabedian, New York University
“Supercritical Wing Sections and Computational Plasma Physics”

The XVth Courant Lectures
April 14-15, 1997   
Gordon Bell, Bay Area Research Center, Microsoft
“Telework” and “New Computer Classes: The Platforms, Interfaces, and Networks”

The XIVth Courant Lectures
Fang Hua Lin, New York University
“Energy Concentrations for the Ginzburg-Landau Equations” and “Minimal Submanifolds Vortices and filaments dynamics”

The XIIIth Courant Lectures
March 7 – 8, 1996   
Professor Gang Tian, New York University
“Nonlinear Equations in Complex Differential Geometry” and “Complex Monge-Ampere Equations and Moser-Onofri Type Inequalities”

The XIIth Courant Lectures
October 7, 1988
Professor Roger Penrose, Oxford University
“Complex Geometry in Physics”

The XIth Courant Lectures
October 7, 1988   
Professor Richard Karp, University of California, Berkeley
“The Polynomial-time Frontier: Recent Development in Computational Complexity”

The Xth Courant Lectures
October 6, 1988   
Professor Clifford Taubes, Harvard University
“Stable Morse Theory for an Algebraic Variety’s Map into a Grassmanian”

The VIIIth & IXth Courant Lectures
May 4 – 9, 1987   
Robert E. Tarjan, Princeton University, AT&T Bell Laboratories
“New Themes in Data Structure Design”

Dennis P. Sullivan, Einstein Professor of Mathematics, Graduate Center of C.U.N.U and I.H.E.S., France
“Analysis on Quasi-Conformal Manifolds and Yang-Mills Fields”

The VIIth Courant Lectures
April 29, 1982   
Michael O. Rabin, Hebrew University, Jerusalem and Harvard University
“Randomization in Computation”

The VIth Courant Lectures
April 28, 1982    
William P. Thurston, Princeton University
“On the Geometry of Three-Manifolds”

The Vth Courant Lectures
May 12, 1975
Chen Ning Yang, Nobel Laureate in Physics, 1957
“Gauge Theory: An Example of Fiber Bundle Theory in Physics”

The IVth Courant Lectures   
Carl Ludwig Siegel, University of Goettingen

The IIIrd Courant Lectures
Heinrich Hopf, ETH – Zurich

The IInd Courant Lectures
Otto Neugebauer, Brown University
“The Sources of Medieval Mathematical Astronomy”

The Ist Courant Lectures
May 11, 1959
Eugene P. Wigner, Princeton University
“The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences”