The institute was founded by a government decree in 1950 as the Institute for Applied Mathematics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Its first director was Alfréd Rényi, who headed the Institute till his early death in 1970. Successive directors were László Fejes Tóth (1970-1982), András Hajnal (1982-1992), Domokos Szász (1993-1995), Gyula O. H. Katona (1996-2005) and Péter Pál Pálfy (2006-).
The research staff of the Institute consists of about 70 members, but at any time a considerable part of them (typically 20-30 p.c.) are on leave, fulfilling longer term invitations/temporary positions at various universities or research centers abroad. The following elected members of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences are among the leading scientists of the Institute:
- Imre Bárány (discrete geometry) corresponding member
- Ákos Császár (topology and real analysis),
- Imre Csiszár (information theory)
- Zoltán Füredi (discrete mathematics)
- András Hajnal (discrete mathematics, set theory and topology)
- István Juhász (set theory and topology)
- Gyula O. H. Katona (discrete mathematics)
- Péter Major (probability theory)
- Péter Pál Pálfy (group theory, universal algebra)
- János Pintz (number theory)
- László Pyber (group theory and discrete mathematics) corresponding member
- Imre Z. Ruzsa (number theory)
- Miklós Simonovits (discrete mathematics)
- Vera T. Sós (discrete mathematics and number theory)
- András Stipsicz (algebraic topology)
- Domokos Szász (dynamical systems and statistical physics)
- Endre Szemerédi (discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science)
- Gábor Tusnády (stochastics)
The research staff of the Institute forms research teams covering the following research topics: algebra, algebraic geometry, algebraic logic and computer science, approximation theory, differential equations, discrete mathematics, functional analysis, geometry, information theory, mathematical statistics, number theory, probability theory, set theory, statistical physics, topology. The scientific output of the Institute is well certified by the research papers published by its staff in leading international journals. The members of the Institute play an important part in organizing the conferences of the János Bolyai Mathematical Society, the proceedings of which are also well known by the international mathematical community. In 2001 the Institute was granted the title Centre of Excellence of the European Union.
Beside the research work another important duty of the Institute is the active support of mathematics teaching at various levels from undergraduate to postgraduate. This is partly done by undertaking teaching duties at various universities of the country, by organizing graduate and postgraduate courses in the topics mentioned above, and by tutoring PhD students. From the academic year 2001/2002 a new PhD program has been launched jointly with Cental European University.
The Institute welcomes visiting researchers both at postgraduate and senior levels from Hungary as well as from abroad. Colleagues who wish to pay a short term visit to the Institute in order to establish or promote scientific contacts are also welcome.
In spite of the financial difficulties, the Institute's library is the biggest library of mathematics in Hungary. It has about 40.000 books and 25.000 volumes of more than 400 periodicals. The supports of the following sponsors are invaluable:
- OTKA (Budapest),
- Trinity College (Cambridge, England)
- A.C.M. (New York)
- S.I.A.M. (Philadelphia)
- Soros Foundation (New York).
The building is a two-story edifice with an inner yard and has a ground plan of six axes. The entrance gate is situated on the second axis from the West, and the decorative staircase forms an organic whole with the inner areas of the building.
You can read about the history of the building on this page