The Institute exists today largely as Flexner conceived it: an institution that crosses disciplinary boundaries; enables scholars and scientists to be driven by their own intellectual curiosity; attracts the ablest researchers from around the world; and remains relatively small so that it retains a sense of community.
Research at IAS has provided foundations for progress in knowledge and applications across the sciences and humanities, including:
- the development of one of the first stored-program computers, whose structure (von Neumann architecture) formed the mathematical basis of computer software and influenced the development of modern computing;
- the foundations of game theory and much of the basis of modern theoretical meteorology;
- pioneering theories in the natural sciences, from string theory and astrophysics to systems biology, and their increasing interactions with mathematics;
- wide influence on the fields of global development, international relations, historical practice, and morality and ethics; and
- key texts in a range of historical disciplines, including essential contributions to the establishment of art history as a discipline in the United States.
Current research involves new ideas about space and time; the origins and long-term fate of the universe; the development of computer proof verification to avoid mathematical mistakes; reconstructing history using novel sources such as ancient DNA; establishing the origins of modern democracy and human rights; and developing an anthropology of morality.
While the Institute has remained small, its influence has been wide, through the work of its Faculty and Members, the impact that time at the Institute has on the careers of Members and the institutions where they base their careers, and the many institutions around the world that have been modeled on or inspired by the Institute.