It is easy to make “false discoveries” when analyzing big data. It is harder to draw causal conclusions that are reliable and reproducible, especially when private or proprietary information is involved. Recent mathematical ideas, like differential privacy, offer new ways of reaching robust conclusions while provably protecting personal information.
Daniel L. Goroff is vice president and program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a grant-making philanthropy that supports breakthroughs in science, technology, and economics. He is professor emeritus of mathematics and economics at Claremont’s Harvey Mudd College, where he previously served as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty.
Goroff earned his B.A.-M.A. degree in mathematics Summa Cum Laude at Harvard as a Borden Scholar, an M.Phil. in economics at Cambridge University as a Churchill Scholar, a masters in mathematical finance at Boston University, and a Ph.D. in mathematics at Princeton University as a Danforth Fellow. He also completed the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders at Stanford’s Business School.
Daniel Goroff’s first faculty appointment was at Harvard University in 1983. During over two decades there, he rose to the rank of professor of the practice of mathematics while also serving as associate director of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, and as an elected member of the Faculty Council, the “cabinet” of the dean of the faculty of arts and sciences. At Harvard, Goroff designed and taught courses for the mathematics, physics, history of science, economics, engineering, and continuing education programs. He was the founding director of a Masters Degree Program in “Mathematics for Teaching” offered through the Harvard Extension School. After pioneering international distance education in the 1980s, his most recent online course on “Decisions, Games, and Negotiations” was co-taught with Harvard Business School Professor Howard Raiffa. Daniel Goroff is a winner of the Phi Beta Kappa Prize for Teaching Excellence.
In pursuing his research on nonlinear systems, chaos, and decision theory, Goroff has held visiting positions at the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques in Paris, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, and the Dibner Institute at MIT. In 1994, Daniel Goroff was elected to a three-year term on the board of directors of the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE).
During 1996-97, he was a division director at the National Research Council (NRC) in Washington, and during 1997-98, Goroff worked for the president’s science advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). That year he was named a “Young Leader of the Decade in Academia” by Change: The Magazine of Higher Education. As director of the joint policy board for mathematics (JPBM) from 1998 to 2001, Daniel Goroff was called to testify about educational and research priorities both by the House and again by the Senate during the 106th Congress. He also testified before the 109th Congress.
Goroff was a founding board member of “Scientists and Engineers for America” and co-directed the Scientific and Engineering Workforce Project based at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). A former chair of the U.S. National Commission on Mathematics Instruction at the National Research Council, he now serves on both the NRC Board on International Scientific Organizations and the NRC Forum on Open Science.
With his vacation and consulting time, Daniel Goroff works on nonprofit strategies and projects through the firm Anthony Knerr & Associates. Beginning in 2009, he has taught courses as distinguished visiting professor of mathematics at Columbia University’s Teachers College. During 2010, Goroff served part time as an assistant director for social, behavioral, and economic science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
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