Two hundred students, industry professionals, and academic leaders convened at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the second annual Women in Data Science (WiDS) conference on March 5. The conference grew from 150 participants last year, and highlighted local strength in academics and health care. "The WiDS conference highlighted female leadership in data science in the Boston area," said Caroline Uhler, a member of the WiDS steering committee who is an IDSS core faculty member and assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) at MIT. "This event is particularly important to encourage more female scientists in related areas to join this emerging area that has such broad societal impact." Regina Barzilay, Delta Electronics Professor of EECS, gave the first presentation on how data science and machine learning approaches are improving cancer research. Barzilay said her experiences as a breast cancer survivor motivates her work.
When you enter a room, your brain is bombarded with sensory information. If the room is a place you know well, most of this information is already stored in long-term memory. However, if the room is unfamiliar to you, your brain creates a new memory of it almost immediately. MIT neuroscientists have now discovered how this occurs. A small region of the brainstem, known as the locus coeruleus, is activated in response to novel sensory stimuli, and this activity triggers the release of a flood of dopamine into a certain region of the hippocampus to store a memory of the new location.
In recent years, MIT scholars have helped develop a whole lexicon of science and math terms for use in Haiti's Kreyòl language. Now a collaboration with Google is making those terms readily available to anyone -- an important step in the expansion of Haitian Kreyòl for education purposes. The new project, centered around the MIT-Haiti Initiative, has been launched as part of an enhancement to the Google Translate program. Now anyone using Google Translate can find an extensive set of Kreyòl terms, including recent coinages, in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. "In the past five or six years, we've witnessed quite a paradigm shift in the way people in Haiti talk about and use Kreyòl," says Michel DeGraff, a professor of linguistics at MIT and director of the MIT-Haiti Initiative.
Last week researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) presented a virtual reality (VR) system that lets you teleoperate a robot using an Oculus Rift headset. The system embeds the user in a VR control room with multiple sensor displays, making it feel like they're inside the robot's head. While it's a peculiar idea for humans, for robots it fits: Inside the robot is a human in a virtual control room, seeing through its eyes and controlling its actions. To make these movements possible, the human's space is mapped into the virtual space, and the virtual space is then mapped into the robot space to provide a sense of co-location.
Regina Barzilay, a professor in MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) who does research in natural language processing and machine learning, is a recipient of a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, sometimes referred to as a "genius grant." The Delta Electronics Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Barzilay does research in natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning. She is the recipient of the National Science Foundation Career Award, the Microsoft Faculty Fellowship, and multiple "best paper" awards in her field. For her contributions to teaching machine learning and natural language processing, she was awarded the Jamieson Award for Excellence in teaching.
VR-focused startups presented prototypes for virtual pets, nausea-reducing games, novel social and strategy games, and even advanced corporate and fitness training applications. Still others brought new social features, advanced computer vision, and real-time data analysis to eSports, which is competitive online gaming complete with spectators and betting. Total Respawn, which had a long line at its booth outside Building 10, creates real-life AR first-person shooter games for action sports arenas. Hidden Switch: an MIT Media Lab spinout developing a feature that lets eSports community members connect with some of the biggest eSports stars.
More than 50 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, and diseases including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's can also disrupt sleep. To make it easier to diagnose and study sleep problems, researchers at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital have devised a new way to monitor sleep stages without sensors attached to the body. Their device uses an advanced artificial intelligence algorithm to analyze the radio signals around the person and translate those measurements into sleep stages: light, deep, or rapid eye movement (REM). Recent advances in artificial intelligence have made it possible to train computer algorithms known as deep neural networks to extract and analyze information from complex datasets, such as the radio signals obtained from the researchers' sensor.
When applied to previously-collected atmospheric samples and data, their findings support evidence that on average these bioaerosols globally make up less than 1 percent of the particles in the upper troposphere -- where they could influence cloud formation and by extension, the climate -- and not around 25 to 50 percent as some previous research suggests. While atmospheric and climate modeling suggests that bioaerosols, globally averaged, are not abundant and efficient enough at freezing to significantly influence cloud formation, research findings have varied significantly. The group leveraged the presence of phosphorus in the mass spectra to train the classification machine learning algorithm on known samples and then, primed, applied it to field data acquired from Desert Research Institute's Storm Peak Laboratory in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and from the Carbonaceous Aerosol and Radiative Effects Study based in the town of Cool, California. Knowing that the principal atmospheric emissions of phosphorus are from mineral dust, combustion products, and biological particles, they exploited the presence of phosphate and organic nitrogen ions and their characteristic ratios in known samples to classify the particles.
But a team of researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and ETH Zurich hope to make drone cinematography more accessible, simple, and reliable. Then, on the fly, it generates control signals for a camera-equipped autonomous drone, which preserve that framing as the actors move. With our solution, if the subject turns 180 degrees, our drones are able to circle around and keep focus on the face. The researchers tested the system at CSAIL's motion-capture studio, using a quadrotor (four-propeller) drone.