Theoretical physicists attempt to determine the laws of nature and their consequences by constructing mathematical models of physical systems and solving the equations that underlie those models, sometimes aided by computers. This is in contrast to another primary branch of physics, experimental physics, in which scientists use tools and instruments to perform measurements and uncover the behavior of natural systems. At the deepest level, theoretical physicists formulate the laws that govern the world in which we live.

The Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics is a center for theoretical physics research and intellectual inquiry. The goal is to provide an exceptional environment for excellence in theoretical physics research. The Institute provides support for postdoctoral researchers and graduate students, brings distinguished scholars to UCLA and organizes workshops and conferences to facilitate the exchange of new ideas. It also promotes outreach to the general community via public lectures and other activities. The Institute will initially focus primarily on theoretical particle physics but, as funding resources are extended, there are plans to expand its programs into a wider variety of cutting-edge areas of theoretical physics.