The Fields Institute Turns Twenty-Five 170725 Final book with covers - Page 104

82 Barbara Keyfitz components; one is general, and one is special to its role in Canadian mathematics. In general, research institutes that operate substantial visitor programs serve to identify fertile research areas, and to accelerate the pace of discovery in those areas by bringing together people who might be geographically scattered and burdened with distractions, and giving them the freedom to focus on research for a reasonably long time. They do so efficiently, taking advantage of the willingness of most universities to support the research careers of their faculty by allowing institutes to second their employees’ services at deep discounts. As a purely economic matter, institutes count on this exchange, which also benefits universities by raising the research profile of their faculty. Nonetheless, the whole enterprise would fall apart if the currency of research excellence lost its value. I would claim that, in fact, visitor research institutes are efficient mechanisms for creating value in this currency. Most institutes also devote considerable resources to support postdoctoral fellows (PDF), another source of value added. In most countries, including Canada, mathematics institutes are funded publicly. In the case of Fields, the objective of the principal funding source, the Province of Ontario, was the education of high quality personnel, while Government of Canada funding, at almost the same level, was focused technically on research. It is my opinion that having public funding is very important, as it leads to public accountability. Right now, in the U.S., there is some debate over this, with the National Science Foundation (NSF), until now the principal funding source of the majority of mathematics research institutes, putting pressure on its institutes to diversify their funding. I feel this is a grave mistake. Private philanthropy is not likely to make the funding of mathematical research a priority, and corporate funding needs to be based on a genuine scientific partnership to support