Mathematical Institute of the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts



The Mathematical Institute of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts was founded in 1946 as the first institute of the Academy. At the time of its founding in a country devastated by the war, the Institute had to start practically from zero, but there was a historical background on which to build.

The predecessor of the Institute was the so called "Mathematician's Club", established in the twenties. It gathered all research-oriented mathematicians from Belgrade University, organized monthly lectures (colloquium talks) and, from 1932, started publishing the first international mathematics journal in Serbia:Publications Mathématique de l'Université de Belgrade. At their disposal they had a rich collection of materials in the Mathematics Seminar of the Belgrade University, established in 1895. By 1946, however, all this was gone. In 1944, just two days before the liberation, the library was burned together with all the written records of the Club's activities. The last volume of Publications was also burned in the printing shop, during the bombardment in 1941, and only one copy remained in the house of the editor.

From the beginning, the Institute had a concept which is very modern today. Rather than employing a large staff, as research institutes frequently do, the idea was to have members employed at other institutions while the Institute provides only the infrastructure for research: the library, colloquiums, seminars and courses, publications etc. Such decision was probably prompted by the specific way in which Universities in Serbia are organized where mathematicians are not grouped in one department but divided into different schools (Faculties). After the rapid growth of the University network in Serbia, the Institute now has collaborators employed at over 30 different institutions, mostly Faculties of the Universities in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Niš, Kragujevac and Pristina.

In its first two decades, Analysis and its applications in Mechanics absolutely dominated the research activities at the Institute. But in general, the institute was never sectarian: research in any branch of mathematics was always warmly welcomed, as long as it was of high quality. Over the decades various branches had their ups and downs, based mainly on their agility and ability to attract graduate students through seminars and other activities. In the seventies, for example, Logic progressed from virtual nonexistence to the status of the most vigorous group. In the eighties Geometry and Topology became more prominent. Currently, we are witnessing the rejuvenation of Analysis and Mechanics. Scientific policy decisions generally encouraged variety and only occasionally gave special support in cases where groups were falling behind or new disciplines were being established. In that way Mathematics in Serbia not only grew during the past 50 years from less then 20 researchers to more than 400, but also expanded in scope tremendously, covering now practically all branches of modern mathematics and its applications, and thus keeping pace with the explosive development of Mathematics in the second half of the Twentieth Century.

The Institute recognized quite early on that computer science was important for further development of mathematics. In the mid-sixties the Computer Center of the Institute was created and an IBM 360 was acquired, the best scientific computer of the time. After the initial enthusiasm and some interesting results, however, the whole idea slowly deteriorated. One reason was certainly the limited aptitude of mathematicians for managing the Big Science (the upkeep of IBM 360 was comparable to that of a major installation in physics, not to mention eventual replacement). Another reason stemmed from political circumstances. The dissolution of Yugoslav federation began in the late sixties with the dissolution of Federal Scientific Research Fund. The seventies, a time of economic prosperity in Yugoslavia financed by foreign loans, saw the downfall of Yugoslav science.

The industry, as well as the government, abandoned research and development in favor of purchasing or licensing foreign technology, which brought expensive, applied research to a virtual standstill. The advent of personal computers facilitated the decision to close down the Computer Center in 1985 and start building a network of PCs. The interest of the Institute in computer science was redefined at that time to include only those areas of research that can be done on a PC. Fortunately, very soon this came to mean almost everything of some interest for mathematicians.

In 1961 the Institute acquired an independent status but remained, willingly, under the auspices of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, where it is still housed today.


Maintaining the highest level of scientific research in the filed of mathematics, mechanics and computer science.

Mobilizing mathematical resources in Serbia, offering research infrastructure and improving communication between groups having similar scientific interest.

Discovering ways of applying scientific results.

Solving problems posed by sciences and industry.

Organizing all sorts of scientific and expert training and participating in organization delivery of doctoral studies.

Organizing international collaborations and supporting participation in domestic and international scientific conferences.

Supporting the education of young people of exceptional talent.

Popularization of mathematical sciences.


Source: MISANU

  • Research Infrastructure
  • Research Institute
Geographical focus
  • Serbia
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by Giorgio Piccirillo on April 13, 2017
Modified on April 18, 2017