Opening Address by Prof. Dr. Felix Otto, Managing Director of the Hausdorff Center

Magnifizenz, Spektabilitäten,
Dear representatives from the German Science Foundation, our funding agency, and other science organisations,
dear Mr. Finger, associate mayor of Bonn,
dear Speakers and participants,

it is a pleasure to welcome you to the opening colloquium of the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics. We are delighted that we could attract six outstanding speakers despite the short notice and I’m looking forward to this tour d’horizon of mathematics and its applications.

The Hausdorff Center encompasses all mathematics in Bonn. It is formed by the Max-Planck Institute and five institutes at Bonn university, stretching over two schools. It gathers together pure mathematicians, applied mathematicians and mathematical economists, with altogether about 50 faculty members. It is the philosophy of the Hausdorff Center to develop core mathematics side-by-side with well-selected applications.

The Hausdorff Center is one of the 17 so-called Clusters-of-Excellence recently established and funded by the German government. To this date, it is the only one with a focus on mathematics. The fact that mathematics, as a fundamental science in its own right, was successful amongst fields like life sciences or engineering is a major success for mathematics. We’d like to thank the German Science Foundation for installing an international peer review process despite a highly politicized environment.

We also would like to thank our university. Without its past and present support, this success would not have been possible, and we crucially rely on its future support.

Let me briefly address the structural goals of the Hausdorff Center. With a substantial part of the budget, the Hausdorff Center wants to position itself as a service provider for the national and global community. To this aim, we are building up a center for semester or trimester-long scientific programs, in the spirit of MSRI or IMA, to be called the Hausdorff Research Institute for Mathematics. We are glad that Matthias Kreck, the former director of Oberwolfach, has joined us as a director of this subentity. The first full semester program will start in the fall.

Another important component of the Hausdorff Center is the Bonn International Graduate School in Mathematics, which was introduced yesterday by Carl-Friedrich Bödigheimer.

Last but not least, new faculty positions will be created within the framework of the Hausdorff Center. We have already announced 8 non-tenured associate professor positions and are about to announce 5 tenured full professor positions. The novelty for the German system is that

  • we did not specify fields
  • we are not restricted to a rigid time frame
  • there is a single long-term search committee for each group of positions.

This is to give us the freedom to react if and only if outstanding candidates are available.

We are aware that these are ambitious goals. We will need a lot of cohesion and committment internally, and a lot of advice and support from outside — and a good deal of good luck.

With this being said, let me hand over to Carl-Friedrich Bödigheimer, who is the head of the organizing committee.