AMS-MSRI Congressional Briefings

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.

Congressional Briefing Highlights Cryptography

GoldwasserThe 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.

Pelosi and GoldwasserLeader 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.

AudienceIn 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


Previous Congressional Briefings:

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

American Mathematical Society