The Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach was founded in 1944 and developed over the years into an international research centre. In mathematical research, interchange of ideas plays a central role. The high degree of abstraction of mathematics and the compact way it is presented necessitate direct personal communication. Although most new results are nowadays quickly made available to the mathematical community via electronic media, this cannot replace personal contact among scientists. The importance of personal contact can only increase with the constant increase of specialization. Therefore, the Institute concentrates on cooperative research activities of larger (workshop programme) or smaller (mini-workshop programme and Research in Pairs) groups. In all activities, participation of promising young scientists plays an important role.
Leading representatives of particularly relevant research areas from all over the world are invited to Oberwolfach (about 60% coming from abroad) offering them the opportunity to pursue their research activities. The Institute promotes the participation of especially gifted post-docs. The Institute's premises offer accommodation for about 55 - 60 visitors. Up to 10 of these participate in the programme "Research in Pairs" (RiP); the others are participants in the traditional and well-established weekly workshop programme dealing with a special field of mathematics or a field of application. The activities at the Oberwolfach Institute have resulted in many important publications.
The Institute brings people together for a short but intense period, providing them with ideal conditions under which to pursue research activities which will influence and stimulate the future development of the field.
The basis for the successful realisation of the research programmes described above is an excellent infrastructure. Traditionally in mathematics, the library plays the main role. We are proud of having one of the best mathematical libraries worldwide at our disposal (the American Mathematical Society "AMS" ranked the Oberwolfach library among the 10 best in the world). The Oberwolfach library contains about 54,000 issues of books, proceedings, etc. and subscribes to approximately 520 journals. During the last few years the computer pool has been improved significantly. The buildings financed by the Volkswagen-Stiftung not only offer accommodation facilities for visitors but also form an excellent and stimulating frame for the research activities at the Institute.
The Institute is a member of ERCOM