The Fields Institute Turns Twenty-Five 170725 Final book with covers - Page 11

INTRODUCTION The Fields Institute Turns Twenty-Five Elaine McKinnon Riehm After twenty-five years, memories can be unreliable, details fade, and emphasis shifts. That is why historians prefer to consult archives and research libraries, where dated and signed documents are authenticated, put into order, and preserved by professional librarians. But the history of the Fields Institute comes principally as a collection of stories—stories that draw on individual memories that have sharpened in some details and grown uncertain in others. Memory being fallible, these accounts may overlap in some details or diverge in others. Together, however, they present a portrait of an institution that was boldly conceived against the odds, but that has survived and flourished. As several authors here attest, one constant unknown that always hung in the air was long-term funding, making long-term planning difficult. Taken together, these stories describe an organic institution that has evolved under the leadership of its numerous directors, but has always held to its original wide definition of mathematics. There was some controversy over