at the Library
The library is the mathematician’s laboratory
A teacher and his students, and a research mathematician and his students, must have a mathematics library as good as the university can afford, and they must have it down the hall a few steps away. Facts and proofs must be looked up now, other questions will very likely arise before lunch, and still others during the afternoon colloquium. A historian might be able to continue working without immediately verifying an important reference – that can wait till tomorrow. For a mathematican each step of the intellectual structure under study depends crucially on the previous steps, and a missing step could be an obstacle to any progress at all.
I Want to be a Mathematician: An Automathography, Springer, 1985, p. 355
The collection of books on mathematics is particularly extensive. It benefits from sustained development dating back to the time when the University of Lausanne and EPFL each had their own research library. These two stocks were combined into the Rolex Learning Center (RLC) and since then have been open to all users of the Library.
More than 30,000 publications in mathematics are available directly at the EPFL library, and an even larger number in the Nebis network that you can locate and order via our catalogues :
- Beast : Books (electronic and printed) available at EPFL
- NEBIS : Catalogue of printed books available in the whole network, including inter alia the Zentral Bibliothek de Zurich
- Swissbib : Catalogue of all the libraries in Switzerland
- WorldCat : Global catalogue of libraries
The following publishers’ packages are available on the EPFL website. In order to discover all the packages and individual titles, please look up our catalogue :
The EPFL Library provides a large number of journals, both in printed and electronic format. This range may be supplemented by calling on the services of the other libraries in the network.
The BEAST catalogue will inform you of the availability of journals, at Lausanne as well as Zurich :
- More than three hundred journals can be looked up at the EPFL library.
- Volumes of archives can also be ordered from the ETHZ library.
Electronic articles and journals
The content of the journals (articles) can be searched in our BEAST catalogue, and in the following databases :
- MathSciNet (anciennement Mathematical Reviews) : Database of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) covering pure and applied mathematics
- Zentralblatt MATH (zbMATH) : Database of the European Mathematical Society (EMS) and of the FIZ Karlsruhe. It is the forerunner of MathSciNet and covers a wider period
- Current Index to Statistics (CIS) : Database specialising in statistics developed by the American Statistical Association (ASA) and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS)
- Web of Science (WoS) : Multidisciplinary database sold by Thomson Reuters
If an article is not directly available in its electronic format, there are other ways of obtaining it.
1. Is there free access to a version?
Google Scholar is an efficient search engine for finding this kind of manuscript (“preprints”) made available in open access.
2. Does the EPFL library have a printed version?
3. Does the ETHZ library own a printed version?
Our BEAST catalogue informs you about the ETHZ subscriptions, and allows you to order an entire volume (only past years, not the current one) or a copy of an article through an inter-library loan.
4. Can another library provide the article?
Our document search service is happy to help you and will try to find the document in a library outside our network.
5. Can the authors provide the article?
If none of the above approaches work, perhaps you can contact the authors personally and ask them to send you on the document?
Many old publications have been digitised and made availailable by the libraries that were storing them :
- The European Digital Mathematics Library : EuDML offers online access to the mathematical literature published mainly in Europe, in the form of a perennial digital fund developed and maintained by a network of institutions
- Numérisation de documents anciens mathématiques : Search and download archives of digitised mathematical journals
- Jahrbuch über die Fortschritte der Mathematik (1868-1942) : Archive of the publications of the University of Göttingen library
- Europeana : Grouping of several European digital libraries (Gallica etc.)
- Cornell University Library Historical Mathematics Monographs : Selection of books in the public domain
- retro.seals.ch : retro.seals.ch is the ETH-Bibliothek platform for Swiss digitised journals on science and culture
Regarding articles, of note are two sites dedicated to them :
- arXiv : Manuscripts (recent) in physics, mathematics, computer science and computational sciences
- JSTOR : Archives of many pure mathematics journals and statistical journals
A small selection of sites discussing mathematics :
- Mathoverflow : A question and answer site for mathematics professionals
- The Polymath Bolg : Collaborative mathematics project started in 2009 by Timothy Gowers
- Foundations of Mathematics : Forum discussing the foundations of mathematics.
In order to discover all the encyclopaedias available at EPFL, please refer to our catalogue.
In the library you will find a series of publications ranging from guides to reference works which can help you in your work of scientific writing.
- Handbook of Writing for the Mathematical Sciences
- A Primer of Mathematical Writing
- Writing Mathematical Papers in English
- Guide pratique de rédaction scientifique
- The Elements of Style
- Chicago Manual of Style
- Oxford English Dictionary
- Using the Mathematics Literature