The scientific heritage of IHES
Léon Motchane wanted to launch a scientific publication, right from the Institute’s inception. Jean Dieudonné, still at Northwestern University in Illinois, piloted the first issue of the Publications mathématiques de l’IHES with Motchane in the autumn of 1958. In early 1959, he had not yet officially taken up his post as a permanent professor in the mathematics section alongside Grothendieck. For their part, the physicists saw no need for such a publication in their discipline.
Motchane, who had contributed to the work of Éditions de Minuit during the war period, had some editorial experience. Jean Dieudonné was impressed by the printing quality of the "blue books", even though he was familiar with mathematical publications, as he had written many of the treatises in Bourbaki’s Éléments de mathématique.
“Have received the first proofs of Wall’s article. The typography is excellent, easy on the eye and very readable. If only all periodicals were printed this way, I think we’ll be setting a standard!”
Jean Dieudonné, talking about the proofs of the first issue.
Articles were published in journals of different lengths. Regular issues started to be published in 1979.
The Éléments de géométrie algébrique (EGA), produced by Alexander Grothendieck working with Jean Dieudonné, were also published in this collection.
“The fundamental researches in the fields of analysis, topology and algebraic geometry make up a remarkable collection. Few mathematical journals in the world can pride themselves on having achieved this much in fifteen years.”
Letter from Henri Cartan to Nicolaas H. Kuiper, December 22, 1974.
“Les Publications represents – by far – the best mathematical journal in France.”
Letter from Jean-Pierre Serre to Nicolaas H. Kuiper, January 1, 1975
Jean Dieudonné took on the responsibility of editing the Publications Mathématiques de l'IHES from 1959 to 1979. His successor, Jacques Tits, was assisted by an editorial board, comprising Pierre Deligne, Dennis Sullivan and René Thom.
In 1999, Étienne Ghys became the journal’s managing editor for the next ten years. He was followed by Claire Voisin and Sergiu Klainerman and then by Claire Voisin from January 2012 to June 2019. In July 2019, Nicolas Bergeron became the current managing editor.