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The Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, or simply “The ITP,” is a National Science Foundation funded institution at the physics department of the University of California, Santa Barbara dedicated to the study of frontier theoretical physics, including string theory, theoretical condensed matter physics, and theoretical astrophysics. According to the mission statement, "The general purpose of the Institute is to contribute to the progress of theoretical physics, especially in areas overlapping the traditional subfields, in ways which are not easily realized in existing institutions."

The ITP is housed in Walter Kohn Hall, a pastel and vaguely hacienda inspired building located on bluffs above the Pacific Ocean on the UCSB campus. The director is David Gross, inventor of the field theory of the strong interaction, Quantum Chromodynamics, and there are five other faculty members: deputy director Daniel Hone, astrophysicist Lars Bildsten, condensed matter theorist Matthew Fisher, string theorist Joseph Polchinski, and field theorist Anthony Zee. In addition, there is a rotating body of visiting scholars, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate fellows.

The ITP was founded in 1979 and was originally located in a corner of a rather inauspicious building also housing the UCSB graduate school of education. Due in no small part to the efforts of UCSB physics professor Jim Hartle, the institute began to recruit faculty, and was able to relocate to its current, much improved location in 1993. It has become quite prolific at fund-raising. In 2002 the institute received a $7.5 million endowment from Norwegian-American physicist-turned-businessman Fred Kavli, and it has been overheard that the faculty members must put in time ‘hitting up the rich old widows of Santa Barbara for donations.’

Info at www.kitp.ucsb.edu

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