Last week CSAIL principal investigator Shafi Goldwasser spoke about cryptography and privacy as part of the annual congressional briefing of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI).

We live in the age of big data, but most of that data is “sparse.” Imagine, for instance, a massive table that mapped all of Amazon’s customers against all of its products, with a “1” for each product a given customer bought and a “0” otherwise. The table would be mostly zeroes.

When organic chemists identify a useful chemical compound — a new drug, for instance — it’s up to chemical engineers to determine how to mass-produce it. There could be 100 different sequences of reactions that yield the same end product. But some of them use cheaper reagents and lower temperatures than others, and perhaps most importantly, some are much easier to run continuously, with technicians occasionally topping up reagents in different reaction chambers.

Last week CSAIL principal investigator Shafi Goldwasser spoke about cryptography and privacy as part of the annual congressional briefing of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI).

We live in the age of big data, but most of that data is “sparse.” Imagine, for instance, a massive table that mapped all of Amazon’s customers against all of its products, with a “1” for each product a given customer bought and a “0” otherwise. The table would be mostly zeroes.

When organic chemists identify a useful chemical compound — a new drug, for instance — it’s up to chemical engineers to determine how to mass-produce it. There could be 100 different sequences of reactions that yield the same end product. But some of them use cheaper reagents and lower temperatures than others, and perhaps most importantly, some are much easier to run continuously, with technicians occasionally topping up reagents in different reaction chambers.