On Mathematical Grounds provides a glimpse of life at one of the world’s premier mathematical institutes, focusing on its activities, people, and programs.

The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) serves the world as a center for research and postdoctoral studies and as a focal point for the dissemination of new mathematics and its applications. Over 2,000 leading mathematical scientists from around world visit MSRI each year. In addition to its research activities, MSRI hosts programs that inform the public and strengthen mathematical education from junior high through graduate school.

Support for MSRI comes from government agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Security Agency and the Department of Energy; corporations and leading universities; private foundations; and the donations of private individuals.


The 16-minute introduction to MSRI is an update of Invitation to Discover, a 15-minute video made by George Csicsery for MSRI in 2003. The new DVD includes a copy of the older film as well as four bonus features:

The Double Happiness of Don Knuth is a brief interview with mathematician Donald Knuth with comments about his work by Robert Ossserman.



MSRI-UP is a more detailed exposition of the 2008 MSRI summer Undergraduate Program, featuring its organizers and students.



The Julia Robinson Festival is a short piece featuring Nancy Blachman, founder of the Julia Robinson Festival, a program for encouraging children to work on mathematical puzzles sponsored by MSRI and corporate partners such as Google and Pixar.


The Berkeley Math Circle is an expansion of a sequence in On Mathematical Grounds that contains additional interviews with students, organizers, and teachers.



On Mathematical Grounds was produced and directed by George Csicsery of Zala Films for the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, and made possible by a generous contribution from Margaret and Will Hearst.

On Mathematical Grounds (2009)
ISBN 978-0-9824800-1-4

Mathematical Sciences Research Institute
17 Gauss Way
Berkeley CA 94720-5070



The project involved production of an additional limited edition DVD documenting an event presented at MSRI on November 12, 2008. The John Cage Legacy:Chance in Music and Mathematics (ISBN 9780963990396) is an 80-minute happening that features musicians from the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and mathematician/magician Persi Diaconis in a discussion and a musical performance that demonstrates the role of randomness in the musical ideas of Merce Cunningham. Merce Cunningham was present at the event, which was moderated by MSRI Special Projects Director Robert Osserman.


© 2004- George Csicsery