Oberwolfach Research Institute for Mathematics

Coordinates: 48°20′44″N 8°14′07″E / 48.34556°N 8.23528°E / 48.34556; 8.23528
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Main building of the institute with restaurant and guest rooms

The Oberwolfach Research Institute for Mathematics (German: Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach) is a center for mathematical research in Oberwolfach, Germany. It was founded by mathematician Wilhelm Süss in 1944.

It organizes weekly workshops on diverse topics where mathematicians and scientists from all over the world come to do collaborative research.

The Institute is a member of the Leibniz Association, funded mainly by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and by the state of Baden-Württemberg. It also receives substantial funding from the Friends of Oberwolfach foundation, from the Oberwolfach Foundation and from numerous donors.


The library, the main building and the bungalows

The Oberwolfach Research Institute for Mathematics (MFO) was founded as the Reich Institute of Mathematics (German: Reichsinstitut für Mathematik) on 1 September 1944. It was one of several research institutes founded by the Nazis in order to further the German war effort, which at that time was clearly failing.[1] The location was selected to be remote as not to be a target for Allied bombing. Originally it was housed in a building called the Lorenzenhof, a large Black Forest hunting lodge. After the war, Süss, a member of the Nazi party, was suspended for two months in 1945 as part of the county's denazification efforts, but thereafter remained head of the institute. Though the institute lost its government funding, Süss was able to keep it going with other grants, and contributed to rebuilding mathematics in Germany following the fall of the Third Reich by hosting international mathematical conferences. Some of these were organised by Reinhold Baer, a mathematician who was expelled from University of Halle in 1933 for being Jewish, but later returned to Germany in 1956 at the University of Frankfurt. The institute regained government funding in the 1950s.[1]

After Süss's death in 1958, Hellmuth Kneser was briefly director before Theodor Schneider permanently took over in the role in 1959. In that year, he and others formed the mathematical society Gesellschaft für Mathematische Forschung e. V. in order to run the MFO.[1]

On 10 October 1967 the guest house of the Oberwolfach Research Institute for Mathematics was inaugurated, which was a gift from the Volkswagen Foundation. On 13 June 1975 the library and meetings building of the MFO were inaugurated, replacing the old castle. This new building was also a gift from the Volkswagen Foundation.

On 26 May 1989 an extension to the guest building at the MFO was inaugurated.

In 1995, the MFO established the research program "Research in Pairs".

On 1 January 2005 Oberwolfach Research Institute for Mathematics became a member of the Leibniz Association. From 2005 to 2010, there was a general restoration of the guest house and the library building at the MFO.

Post-doctoral program "Oberwolfach Leibniz Fellows" was established in 2007. On 5 May that year an extension to the library was inaugurated, the extension was a gift from the Klaus Tschira Stiftung and the Volkswagen Foundation.


Model of a Boy's surface at the entrance

The iconic model of the Boy surface was installed in front of the Institute, as a gift from Mercedes-Benz on 28 January 1991.

The Boy Surface is named after Werner Boy who constructed the surface in his 1901 thesis, written under the direction of David Hilbert.


Oberwolfach Prize[edit]

The Oberwolfach Prize is awarded approximately every three years for excellent achievements in changing fields of mathematics to young mathematicians not older than 35 years. It is financed by the Oberwolfach Foundation and awarded in cooperation with the institute.

Prize winners


  1. ^ a b c Jackson, Allyn (August 2000). "Oberwolfach, Yesterday and Today" (PDF). Notices of the AMS. 47 (7).
  2. ^ "MFO website".

External links[edit]

48°20′44″N 8°14′07″E / 48.34556°N 8.23528°E / 48.34556; 8.23528