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.
|Video recordings of some Courant Lectures are available here.|
The XXXIInd Courant Lectures
April 6-April 7, 2017
Professor Avi Wigderson, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
The XXXIst Courant Lectures
March 31-April 1, 2016
Professor Horng-Tzer Yau, Professor of Mathematics at Harvard University
The XXXth Courant Lectures
April 27-April 28, 2015
Professor Shafi Goldwasser, ACM Turing Award Laureate, RSA Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science at MIT, and Professor of Computer Science & Applied Mathematics at the Weizmann Institute
The XXIXth Courant Lectures
April 24-April 25, 2014
Simon Donaldson, Imperial College London
Lecture I: "Kahler metrics and projective embedding I: approximation and asymptotics"
Lecture II: "Kahler metrics and projective embedding II: Gromov-Hausdorff limits"
The XXVIIIth Courant Lectures
April 25-April 26, 2013
Bernhard Schölkopf, Max Planck
Lecture I: "Statistical and Causal Learning"
Lecture II: "Inference of Cause and Effect"
The XXVIIth Courant Lectures
March 30 & April 2, 2012
Daniel Spielman, Yale
Lecture I: "Algorithms, Graph Theory, and Laplacian Linear Equations"
Lecture II: "Sparsification of Graphs and Approximation of Matrices"
The XXVIth Courant Lectures
April 7-8, 2011
Persi Diaconis, Stanford
Lecture I: "The Search for Randomness"
Lecture II: "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
Lecture I: "Complexity reduction in the numerical approximation of Partial Differential Equations"
Lecture II: "Mathematical models for the cardiovascular system: analysis, numerical simulation, applications"
The XXIVth Courant Lectures
March 23-24, 2009
Emmanuel Candes, Caltech
Lecture I: "The Amazing Power of Convex Relaxation: the Surprising Story of Compressive Sensing"
Lecture II: "The Amazing Power of Convex Relaxation: the Surprising Story of Matrix Completion"
The XXIIIrd Courant Lectures
March 12-13, 2008
Jon Kleinberg, Cornell University
Lecture I: "The Geography of Social and Information Networks"
Lecture II: "Modeling Social and Economic Exchange in Networks"
The XXIInd Courant Lectures
March 23 & 26, 2007
Jean-Michel Bismut, Université Paris-Sud XI
Lecture I: "Traces, Determinants, and Probability Theory"
Lecture II: "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, College de France
Lecture I: "Atomic Physics to Nonlinear Elasticity: A Mathematical Attempt"
Lecture II: "On Stochastic Partial Differential Equations"
The XIXth Courant Lectures
March 26-27, 2002
Lawrence C. Evans, University of California, Berkeley
Lecture I: "Some PDE methods for weak KAM theory: Introduction and Heuristics"
Lecture II: "Some PDE methods for weak KAM theory: Estimates and Applications"
The XVIIIth Courant Lectures
April 10-11, 2000
Ivar Ekeland, Université Paris-Dauphiine
Lecture I: "Nonlinear Problems Arising from Economic Theory: The Inverse Problem for Demand Functions"
Lecture II: "Nonlinear Problems Arising from Economic Theory: Variational Problems with Convexity Constraints"
The XVIIth Courant Lectures
April 22-23, 1999
Herbert B. Keller, California Institute of Technology
"A New Theory for Differential Algebraic Equations"
Joseph B. Keller, Stanford University
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
Lecture I: "Telework"
Lecture II: "New Computer Classes: The Platforms, Interfaces, and Networks"
The XIVth Courant Lectures
Fang Hua Lin, New York University
Lecture I: "Energy Concentrations for the Ginzburg-Landau Equations"
Lecture II: "Minimal Submanifolds Vortices and Filaments Dynamics"
The XIIIth Courant Lectures
March 7-8, 1996
Professor Gang Tian, New York University
Lecture I: "Nonlinear Equations in Complex Differential Geometry"
Lecture II: "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"