MSRI's public programs aim to make mathematics accessible and exciting to those outside the field, showcasing the beauty and importance of math to people of all ages and backgrounds. We do this through initiatives ranging from production of films for public television and internet viewers to nationwide festivals, annual awards, and Bay Area community programming.
Numberphile: MSRI sponsors YouTube's most popular informal math channel, with over 2.8 million subscribers and 390 million views.
Tadashi's Toys: Tadashi Tokieda loves to share his toys: in this case, objects you can make in a matter of minutes at home, which illustrate principles of mathematics. Dr. Tokieda has partnered with journalist and filmmaker Brady Haran of Numberphile to demonstrate these tricky objects.
Navajo Math Circles (2016): Navajo students enter into a lively collaboration with mathematicians in after-school programs and a summer camp at Diné College in Arizona. Against the challenges of education on the Navajo Nation, the film highlights the connections between Navajo culture, natural beauty, and mathematics, and as well as the hopes of parents, students, and teachers for a brighter future. This film has been nationally broadcast on public television beginning in fall of 2016.
Counting from Infinity: Yitang Zhang and the Twin Prime Conjecture (2015): In April 2013, Yitang Zhang, a lecturer at the University of New Hampshire, submitted a paper to the Annals of Mathematics. Within weeks word spread-- a little-known mathematician had made an important breakthrough towards solving the Twin Prime Conjecture, an enormously challenging problem in Number Theory. This film has been nationally broadcast on public television beginning in spring of 2017.
Taking the Long View: The Life of Shiing-Shen Chern (2011): The biographical documentary follows the life of Shiing-shen Chern, a remarkable mathematician whose formidable mathematical contributions were matched by an approach and vision that helped build bridges between China and the West.
Secrets of the Surface: The Mathematical Vision of Maryam Mirzakhani (in production): Currently in production, this one-hour documentary film is about Maryam Mirzakhani, a brilliant mathematician and Muslim immigrant to the United States who became a superstar in her field. She was awarded a Fields Medal, one of the highest honors in mathematics, just a few years before her untimely death to cancer in 2018. The story of her life will be complemented with sections about Mirzakhani’s mathematical contributions, as explained by colleagues and illustrated with animated sequences.
For additional video productions, visit the Film & Video page.
National Math Festival: The National Math Festival brings together some of the most fascinating mathematicians of our time to inspire and challenge participants to see math in new and exciting ways. The 2019 National Math Festival took place May 4th at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown Washington, DC. For information about future Festivals, subscribe to the National Math Festival email newsletter.
Congressional Briefings: MSRI and the American Mathematical Society (AMS) host two Congressional briefings on mathematical topics each year in Washington, D.C. to inform members of Congress and Congressional staff about new developments made possible through federal support of basic science research.
National Association of Math Circles (NAMC): Organized by MSRI, the National Association of Math Circles provides resources and support for Math Circles and other similar informal mathematics education programs, including professional development and mentoring programs.
Mathical Book Prize: Math is more than numbers and equations! The Mathical Book Prize aims to inspire a love of mathematics in the everyday world in children of all ages. Each year’s winners and honor books join a selective and ever-growing list of new and previously published fiction and non-fiction titles. Mathical titles are as varied as the intersection between literature and mathematics—they encompass picture books, novels, poetry collections, puzzle books, biographies, and more! Mathical is organized by MSRI in partnership with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the Children's Book Council (CBC), and the generous support of the Firedoll Foundation.
CME Group-MSRI Prize in Innovative Quantitative Applications: The CME Group-MSRI Prize recognizes an individual or a group for originality and innovation in the use of mathematical, statistical or computational methods for the study of the behavior of markets, and more broadly of economics. The prize recipient receives a commemorative bronze medallion and a cash award of $50,000, presented at a celebration held at the CME Group headquarters in Chicago. Many past Prize recipients have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Guerilla Science: Soundscape Sculptures: Guerilla Science create events and installations to connect people with science in new ways, producing live experiences that entertain, inspire, challenge and amaze. MSRI has partnered with Guerilla Science to bring the Fire Organ – the mutant offspring of a Rubens’ tube and a traditional pipe organ – to music festivals and dance parties across the US and UK.
Bay Area Math Olympiad (BAMO): Middle and high school students from throughout the Bay Area participate in the Bay Area Math Olympiad exam each February to try their hand at increasingly difficult mathematical problem solving and proofs. Following the exam scoring period, an award ceremony and family celebration for all participants is held at MSRI in March.
Harmonic Series Concerts: MSRI hosts a series of free public concerts during our fall and spring programs, bringing in local and visiting musicians from a variety of genres to perform in the Simons Auditorium for the enjoyment of all. The next recent Harmonic Series Concert will take place on Tuesday, June 25th from 12:45-1:45pm, featuring flamenco guitarist Daniel Fríes.
Art at MSRI: MSRI works with local artists and photographers to host exhibits of prints in our second floor common spaces, available to view by the public during regular building hours. The current exhibit runs March 19-June 28, 2019, and features artworks by Virginia Davis and Claude Ibrahimoff. A free, public reception for the exhibit was held the evening of April 4, 2019. Visitors are welcome to view the exhibit during business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30-5:00 PM). Artworks are located throughout the 2nd floor of the building. A special exhibit of posters from the "Remember Maryam Mirzakhani" exhibit is also on display in Simons Auditorium through August 2019. Due to auditorium scheduling, for inquiries about seeing the poster exhibit during business hours, contact email@example.com.
MSRI at the Commonwealth Club: The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum, bringing together its 20,000 members for more than 400 annual events on topics ranging across politics, culture, society and the economy. MSRI partners with the Club to host public programs featuring some of the world's most interesting mathematical scientists, including Fields Medalist Cédric Villani, world-renowned theoretical physicist Sir Roger Penrose, and mathematical magician Mark Mitton.
Not on the Test: The Pleasure and Uses of Mathematics Lecture Series: MSRI has partnered with Berkeley City College in downtown Berkeley to host a series of free public lectures on the math behind topics ranging from Pixar animation to internet voting and DNA manipulation. You can view recordings of many past presentations at the link above.