Twice per year, the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) jointly sponsor a congressional briefing. These briefings provide an opportunity for communicating information to policymakers and, in particular, for the mathematics community to tell compelling stories of how our federal investment in basic research in mathematics and the sciences pays off for American taxpayers and helps our nation maintain its place as the world leader in innovation.

The AMS and MSRI held a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill on December 6, 2017. The briefing presenter was Dr. Shafi Goldwasser, the RSA Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. Dr. Goldwasser will take up a new post on January 1, 2018 as director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at the University of California, Berkeley. The briefing, entitled “Cryptography: How to Enable Privacy in a Data-Driven World,” was held for members of Congress and their staff at the U.S. Capitol. The Simons Institute made a film of Dr. Goldwasser’s experience with Congress, which you can watch here

Dr. Goldwasser’s pioneering work in the field of cryptography examines how we share and receive information. In the last 40 years, cryptography has shown how to use basic mathematics to enable secure electronic commerce. The enormous amount of data currently collected offers great opportunities to achieve medical breakthroughs, smart infrastructure, economic growth through consumer targeting, and surveillance for national security. This data collection, however, seems to stand in contradiction to patients’ rights, consumers’ privacy, unfair pricing, and the “Basic Right to be Left Alone.” The question is, can mathematics and technology make it possible to maintain privacy and make progress at the same time? Dr. Goldwasser’s presentation addressed how modern encryption methods, zero-knowledge proofs, and multi-party secure computation go a long way to get the best of both worlds.

Leader Nancy Pelosi and Representatives Jerry McNerney (CA) and Daniel Lipinski (IL) were on hand to give remarks and provide their support for the mathematical sciences and federal funding of basic scientific research.

In years past, the AMS has hosted an annual congressional briefing as a means to communicate information to policymakers. Speakers discuss the importance of mathematics research and present their work to Congressional staff as a way to inform members of Congress on how mathematics impacts today's important issues. In 2017, the AMS joined forces with MSRI to offer Congressional briefings twice per year.

Image credits - Allison O’Brien Photography

*Beginning in 2017, the AMS is partnering with MSRI to organize and host bi-annual briefings; prior to 2017, the AMS hosted annual briefings.*

- December 2017,
*"Cryptography: How to Enable Privacy in a Data-Driven World"*presented by Dr. Shafi Goldwasser, MIT. - June 2017,
*"Blackboard to bedside: How high-dimensional geometry is transforming the MRI industry"*presented by David Donoho, Stanford University. - December 2016,
*"How Mathematical Models Predict Emerging Epidemics,"*presented by Mac Hyman, Tulane University. - December 2015,
*"From right triangles to modern cryptography"*presented by Ken Ribet, University of California-Berkeley. - December 2014,
*"The Future of Mathematics: Education & Innovation"*presented by Robert Ghrist, Andrea Mitchell University Professor of Mathematics and Electrical/Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. - December 2013,
*"How Math Fuels the Knowledge Economy"*presented by Mark L. Green, professor emeritus at the University of California-Los Angeles. - December 2012,
*"Chaos and Avalanches in Science and Socio-Political Systems"*presented by James A. Yorke, professor of mathematics and physics at the University of Maryland. - December 2011,
*"Mathematics: Leading the Way for New Options in the Treatment of Coronary Artery Disease"*presented by Suncica Canic, professor of mathematics at the University of Houston. - October 2010,
*"The Gulf Oil Spill: How Can We Protect our Beaches in the Future?"*presented by Andrea Bertozzi, professor of mathematics at UCLA. - October 2009,
*"The Movies, the Markets and Mathematics",*presented by Stuart Geman, professor of applied mathematics at Brown University. - September 2008,
*"Can Mathematics Cure Leukemia?"*presented by Doron Levy, associate professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland, College Park. - September 2007,
*"Mathematics of Ice to Aid Global Warming Forecasts*", presented by Ken Golden, professor of mathematics at the University of Utah. - November 2006,
*"The Necessity of Mathematics: From Google to Counterterrorism to Sudoku"*, presented by Amy Langville, professor of mathematics at the College of Charleston. - November 2005,
*"From Katrina Forward: How Mathematics Helps Predict Storm Surges"*, presented by Clint Dawson, professor at the University of Texas and a member of the Center for Subsurface Modeling in the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences; and James Westerink, associate professor of civil engineering and geological sciences at the University of Notre Dame. - September 2004,
*"Homeland Security: What Can Mathematics Do?"*presented by Fred Roberts, professor of mathematics and director of the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS) at Rutgers University. - July 2003,
*"Mathematics is Biology's Next Microscope, Only Better; Biology is Mathematics' Next Physics, Only Better"*presented by Joel E. Cohen, Laboratory of Populations, Rockefeller and Columbia Universities. - February 2002,
*"Mathematics, Patterns and Homeland Security"*, presented by Ingrid Daubechies, Princeton University. - July 2001,
*"Adding It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics"*, a briefing on this National Research Council Report presented by Deborah Loewenberg Ball and Hyman Bass, University of Michigan and by Roger Howe, Yale University. **Other previous briefings include:***What Does Water Know About Mathematics*, by Mary Fannett Wheeler, The University of Texas at Austin*Calculating the Secrets of Life: Mathematics in Medicine*by DeWitt Sumners, Florida State University*Eavesdropping on the Internet: Mathematics and Policy*by Carl Pomerance, University of Georgia*Mathematical Transcriptions of the Real World: Fingerprints, Magnetic Resonance and Video*by Ronald Coifman, Yale University