Mathematical Sciences Research Institute
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), founded in 1982, is an independent nonprofit mathematical research institution whose funding sources include the National Science Foundation, foundations, corporations, and more than 90 universities and institutions. The Institute is located on the University of California, Berkeley campus, close to Grizzly Peak, on the hills overlooking Berkeley.
MSRI was founded in 1982 by Shiing-Shen Chern, Calvin Moore, and Isadore M. Singer. MSRI hosts about 85 mathematicians and postdoctoral research fellows each semester for extended stays and holds programs and workshops, which draw approximately 2,000 visits by mathematical scientists throughout the year. Unlike many mathematical institutes, it has no permanent faculty or members, and its scientific activities are overseen by its Directorate and its Scientific Advisory Committee, a panel of distinguished mathematicians drawn from a variety of different areas of mathematical research.
Researchers—some 2000 per year—come to MSRI to work in an environment that promotes creativity and the effective interchange of ideas and techniques. MSRI features two focused programs each semester, attended by foremost mathematicians and postdocs from the United States and abroad; the Institute temporarily becomes a world center of activity in those fields.
MSRI takes advantage of its close proximity to the University of California Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and also collaborates nationally with organizations such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The Institute’s prize-winning forty-eight thousand foot building enjoys spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay. After 30 years of activity, the reputation of the Institute is such that mathematicians make it a professional priority to participate in the Institute’s programs.
MSRI also serves a wider community through the development of human scientific capital, providing postdoctoral training to young scientists and increasing the diversity of the research workforce. The Institute also advances the education of young people with conferences on critical issues in mathematics education. Additionally, they host research workshops that are unconnected to the main programs, such as its annual workshop on K-12 mathematics education Critical Issues in Mathematics Education. During the summer, workshops for graduate students are held through the MSRI-UP program. MSRI sponsors programs for middle and high school students and their teachers as part of the Math Circles and Circles for Teachers that meet weekly in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland. It also sponsors the Bay Area Mathematical Olympiad (BAMO), the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival, and the U.S. team of young girls that competes at the China Girls Math Olympiad.
Because of its contribution the nation’s scientific potential, MSRI’s activity is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency. Private individuals, foundations, and nearly 100 Academic Sponsor Institutions, including the top mathematics departments in the United States, provide crucial support and flexibility. James Simons, founder of Renaissance Technologies and a University of California, Berkeley mathematics alum is one of the most generous supporters of MSRI.
Furthermore, the lectures given at MSRI events are videotaped and made available for free on the internet.
List of Directors
MSRI has sponsored many events that reach out to the non-mathematical public. Its Simons Auditorium hosts special performances of classical music. Mathematician Robert Osserman has held a series of public "conversations" with prominent artists who have been influenced by mathematics in their work, such as composer Philip Glass, actor and writer Steve Martin, playwright Tom Stoppard, and actor and author Alan Alda. MSRI also collaborates with local playwrights for an annual program of new short mathematics-inspired plays at Monday Night Playground at the Berkeley Repertory Theater, and co-sponsored a series of mathematics-inspired films with UC Berkeley's Pacific Film Archive for MSRI's 20th anniversary. It also created a series of mathematical puzzles that were posted among the advertising placards on San Francisco Muni buses.