The field of artificial intelligence is moving at a staggering clip, with breakthroughs emerging in labs across MIT. Through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), undergraduates get to join in. In two years, the MIT Quest for Intelligence has placed 329 students in research projects aimed at pushing the frontiers of computing and artificial intelligence, and using these tools to revolutionize how we study the brain, diagnose and treat disease, and search for new materials with mind-boggling properties.
Rafael Gomez-Bombarelli, an assistant professor in the MIT Department of Materials Science andEngineering, has enlisted several Quest-funded undergraduates in his mission to discover new molecules and materials with the help of AI. They bring a blue-sky open mind and a lot of energy, he says. Through the Quest, we had the chance to connect with students from other majors who probably wouldnt have thought to reach out.
Some students stay in a lab for just one semester. Others never leave. Nick Bonaker is now in his third year working with Tamara Broderick, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, to develop assistive technology tools for people with severe motor impairments.
Nick has continually impressed me and our collaborators by picking up tools and ideas so quickly, she says. I particularly appreciate his focus on engaging so carefully and thoughtfully with the needs of the motor-impaired community. He has very carefully incorporated feedback from motor-impaired users, our charity collaborators, and other academics.
This fall, MIT Quest celebrated two years of sponsoring UROP students. We highlight four of our favorite projects from last semester below.
Squeezing more energy from the sun
The price of solar energy is dropping as technology for converting sunlight into energy steadily improves. Solar cells are now close to hitting 50 percent efficiency in lab experiments, but theres no reason to stop there, says Sean Mann, a sophomore majoring in computer science.
In a UROP project with Giuseppe Romano, a researcher at MITs Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, Mann is developing a solar cell simulator that would allow deep learning algorithms to systematically find better solar cell designs. Efficiency gains in the past have been made by evaluating new materials and geometries with hundreds of variables. Traditional ways of exploring new designs is expensive, because simulations only measure the efficiency of that one design, says Mann. It doesnt tell you how to improve it, which means you need either expert knowledge or lots more experiments to improve on it.
The goal of Manns project is to develop a so-called differentiable solar cell simulator that computes the efficiency of a cell and describes how tweaking certain parameters will improve efficiency. Armed with this information, AI can predict which adjustments from among a dizzying array of combinations will boost cell performance the most. Coupling this simulator with a neural network designed to maximize cell efficiency will eventually lead to some really good designs, he says.
Mann is currently building an interface between AI models and traditional simulators. The biggest challenge so far, he says, has been debugging the simulator, which solves differential equations. He pulled several all-nighters double-checking his equations and code until he found the bug: an array of numbers off by one, skewing his results. With that obstacle down, Mann is now looking for algorithms to help the solver converge more quickly, a crucial step toward efficient optimization.
Teaching neural networks physics to identify stress fractures
Sensors deep within the modern jet engine sound an alarm when something goes wrong. But diagnosing the precise failure is often impossible without tinkering with the engine itself. To get a clearer picture faster, engineers are experimenting with physics-informed deep learning algorithms to translate these sensor distress signals.
It would be way easier to find the part that has something wrong with it, rather than take the whole engine apart, says Julia Gaubatz, a senior majoring in aerospace engineering. It could really save people time and money in industry.
Gaubatz spent the fall programming physical constraints into a deep learning model in a UROP project with Raul Radovitzky, a professor in MITs Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, graduate student Grgoire Chomette, and third-year student Parker Mayhew. Their goal is to analyze the high-frequency signals coming from, say, a jet engine shaft, to pinpoint where a part may be stressed and about to crack. They hope to identify the particular points of failure by training neural networks on numerical simulations of how materials break to understand the underlying physics.
Working from her off-campus apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gaubatz built a smaller, simplified version of their physics-informed model to make sure their assumptions were correct. Its easier to look at the weights the neural network is coming up with to understand its predictions, she says. Its like a test to check that the model is doing what it should according to theory.
She picked the project to try applying what she had learned in a course on machine learning to solid mechanics, which focuses on how materials deform and break under force. Engineers are just starting to incorporate deep learning into the field, she says, and its exciting to see how a new mathematical concept may change how we do things.
Training an AI to reason its way through visual problems
An artificial intelligence model that can play chess at superhuman levels may be hopeless at Sudoku. Humans, by contrast, pick up new games easily by adapting old knowledge to new environments. To give AI more of this flexibility, researchers created the ARC visual-reasoning dataset to motivate the field to create new techniques for solving problems involving abstraction and reasoning.
If an AI does well on the test, it signals a more human-like intelligence, says first-year student Subhash Kantamneni, who joined a UROP project this fall in the lab of Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BSC) Professor Tomaso Poggio, which is part of the Center for Minds, Brains and Machines.
Poggios lab hopes to crack the ARC challenge by merging deep learning and automated program-writing to train an agent to solve ARCs 400 tasks by writing its own programs. Much of their work takes place in DreamCoder, a tool developed at MIT that learns new concepts while solving specialized tasks. Using DreamCoder, the lab has so far solved 70 ARC tasks, and Kantamneni this fall worked with master of engineering student Simon Alford to tackle the rest.
To try and solve ARCs 20 or so pattern-completion tasks, Kantamneni created a script to generate similar examples to train the deep learning model. He also wrote several mini programs, or primitives, to solve a separate class of tasks that involve performing logical operations on pixels. With the help of these new primitives, he says, DreamCoder learned to combine the old and new programs to solve ARCs 10 or so pixelwise tasks.
The coding and debugging was hard work, he says, but the other lab members made him feel at home and appreciated. I dont think they even knew I was a freshman, he says. They listened to what I had to say and valued my input.
Putting language comprehension under a microscope
Language is more than a system of symbols: It allows us to express concepts and ideas, think and reason, and communicate and coordinate with others. To understand how the brain does it, psychologists have developed methods for tracking how quickly people grasp what they read and hear. Longer reading times can indicate when a word has been improperly used, offering insight into how the brain incrementally finds meaning in a string of words.
In a UROP project this fall in Roger Levys lab in BCS, sophomore Pranali Vani ran a set of sentence-processing experiments online that were developed by an earlier UROP student. In each sentence, one word is placed in such a way that it creates an impression of ambiguity or implausibility. The weirder the sentence, the longer it takes a human subject to decipher its meaning. For example, placing a verb like tripped at the end of a sentence, as in The woman brought the sandwich from the kitchen tripped, tends to throw off native English speakers. Though grammatically correct, the wording implies that bringing rather than tripping is the main action of the sentence, creating confusion for the reader.
In three sets of experiments, Vani found that the biggest slowdowns came when the verb was positioned in a way that sounded ungrammatical. Vani and her advisor, Ethan Wilcox, a PhD student at Harvard University, got similar results when they ran the experiments on a deep learning model.
The model was surprised when the grammatical interpretation is unlikely, says Wilcox. Though the model isnt explicitly trained on English grammar, he says, the results suggest that a neural network trained on reams of text effectively learns the rules anyway.
Vani says she enjoyed learning how to program in R and shell scripts like Dash. She also gained an appreciation for the persistence needed to conduct original research. It takes a long time, she says. Theres a lot of thought that goes into each detail and each decision made during the course of an experiment.
Funding for MIT Quest UROP projects this fall was provided, in part, by the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab.
- How to cope with squabbling siblings: Five expert tips on handling competitive children - The Irish Times - February 20th, 2021
- Chess Market 2021 Research Report With Covid-19 Update Key Players Analysis, Growth Factors and Forecast to 2027 | The House of Staunton, ChessSUA,... - February 20th, 2021
- Incredible Growth of Counter-UAS System Market to Boom in Future by Industry market by top key Players SRC, Lockheed Martin, Thales NeighborWebSJ -... - February 20th, 2021
- Opinion | American politics are turning us into pessimists - University of Pittsburgh The Pitt News - February 17th, 2021
- 10 Activities To Do When You Need a Study Break - Uloop News - February 17th, 2021
- News from the hill - News24 - February 17th, 2021
- Beckerman Film Series Asks The Hard Questions - New Haven Independent - February 17th, 2021
- Saving Mr Kasparov (and Mr Korchnoi) - TheArticle - February 15th, 2021
- Gaming the System: 'Minecraft' cheating as a case study in subculture drama The Daily Free Press - Daily Free Press - February 15th, 2021
- B2B Telecommunications Market Giants To Grow At Much Faster Pace | Azzurri Communications, BT Group, Arqiva, Charterhouse Voice and Data The Bisouv... - February 15th, 2021
- Streaming is still a good deal, but it's starting to get pricey - WRCB-TV - February 15th, 2021
- Happy Lunar New Year - University of California - February 15th, 2021
- Koala rescued after causing 5-car pileup on Australian freeway, and more of this week's weirdest news - Herald & Review - February 15th, 2021
- Interesting Facts About Anya Taylor Joy From Emma and The Queens Gambit - OtakuKart - February 12th, 2021
- Promoting Exercise Through Gamification-Making Physical Activity More Fun? - Forbes - February 12th, 2021
- SXSW Sets Stacey Abrams As Keynote, Unveils New Round Of Featured Speakers Including Elizabeth Banks, Mary J. Blige, The Russo Brothers And More -... - February 12th, 2021
- Walrus Ivory Holds the Clue to the Lost Norse Civilization in Greenland - Science Times - February 12th, 2021
- Behind the Grind of the N.B.A. Team With the Next Big Thing - The New York Times - February 12th, 2021
- Get informed on the top stories of the day in one quick scan - CBC.ca - February 10th, 2021
- Students rely on hobbies to maintain mental health during pandemic - GW Hatchet - February 10th, 2021
- Award-winning documentarian turns to the story of Billy Stewart - Lake County News - February 7th, 2021
- 15 Tips to Improve the Way People Think of You in the Office (According to a Psychologist) - mySanAntonio.com - February 7th, 2021
- All he needs to do on the court is react - Catholic Star Herald - February 6th, 2021
- Chess grandmaster rates 7 chess scenes in movies and TV for accuracy - Yahoo News - February 6th, 2021
- White House might send masks to every American; no cruising to Canada until 2022; young adults drive infections: Latest COVID-19 updates. - USA TODAY - February 6th, 2021
- Feeling More Stressed Than Ever? You're Not Alone - Healthline - February 6th, 2021
- The Hess Triangle in New York City's West Village To Be Sold - Mental Floss - February 6th, 2021
- Local woman shines in world of chess - Yahoo News - February 4th, 2021
- Exclusive: Meet the startups in Harvard i-lab's 2021 Spring Venture Program - Boston Business Journal - February 4th, 2021
- Why is the European Metals (ASX:EMH) share price 12% higher today? // The Motley Fool Australia - The Motley Fool Australia - February 3rd, 2021
- This Is Where Empathy Lives in the Brain, and How It Works - Singularity Hub - February 3rd, 2021
- Deaths for the week of Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2021 J. - The Jewish News of Northern California - February 3rd, 2021
- 4 schools in the UK offering a character-building education - Study International News - February 3rd, 2021
- The Story Of How Trump Officials Tried To End H-1B Visas - Forbes - February 1st, 2021
- Study finds surprising defensive functions of the immune system against new viral attacks - News-Medical.net - January 30th, 2021
- The 5 Most Influential Shows On Netflix - Forbes - January 30th, 2021
- Brain exercises: 22 ways to improve memory, cognition, and creativity - Medical News Today - January 30th, 2021
- COLUMN: Library has virtual programs for kids and teens - yoursun.com - January 30th, 2021
- Ten Interesting Things We Read This Week - Forbes India - January 30th, 2021
- Chess Market Research Report: Cagr Status, Industry Growth, Trends, Analysis And Forecasts To 2027|The House of Staunton, ChessSUA, CNCHESS,... - January 28th, 2021
- Global Chess Market Insights, Overview, Analysis and Forecast 2020 Murphy's Hockey Law - Murphy's Hockey Law - January 28th, 2021
- Online Sports Technology Market will touch a new level in upcoming year with top key players like IBM (US), Ericsson (Sweden), Cisco (US), Fujitsu... - January 28th, 2021
- Meet the Inaugural Class of Axxess Scholars at UT Dallas - University of Texas at Dallas - January 28th, 2021
- Are computers killing the mystery of chess? - Yahoo News UK - January 26th, 2021
- Freeline to Present Data at the 2021 Virtual Congress of the European Association for Haemophilia and Allied Disorders (EAHAD) and the 17th Annual... - January 26th, 2021
- Used Construction Machinery Market to Witness Huge Growth by 2020-2026 Focusing on Leading Players are Mascus USA,Arnold Machinery Company,Foley... - January 26th, 2021
- Kim Jones Wants to Rule the Fashion World - The New York Times - January 26th, 2021
- A guide to private schools in The Woodlands area in 2021 - Community Impact Newspaper - January 25th, 2021
- 5 NEW Russian history movies you must see - Russia Beyond the Headlines - January 23rd, 2021
- How to get the most from ChessBase 16 - Chessbase News - January 20th, 2021
- What are the key factors and impact of interventions in Englands COVID-19 epidemic? - News-Medical.Net - January 20th, 2021
- Richmond Hill basketball coaches piece together scouting reports on opponents - Savannah Morning News - January 20th, 2021
- What The Biden Presidency Means For Privacy, Consumer Protection And Antitrust - AdExchanger - January 20th, 2021
- Counter-UAS System Market Size, Growth Factor,Analysis And Forecast By 2027| Lockheed Martin, Thales, Boeing - NeighborWebSJ - January 20th, 2021
- Anglo Singapore International School are delighted to welcome you for a school visit. - Bangkok Post - January 20th, 2021
- A Guide to Optimizing Your Mental Health in 2021 - Dan's Papers - January 20th, 2021
- Chess Global Market : Industry Analysis and Forecast (2019-2026) by Type, Application, and Region - The Courier - January 15th, 2021
- ONTARIO: How one womans online chess school is getting young girls worldwide excited about the game - TimminsToday - January 15th, 2021
- LaFleur Won't Be Able to Fool McVay on Saturday - Zone Coverage - January 15th, 2021
- Lewis Carroll Death Anniversary: Here are Some of the Author's Greatest Works - News18 - January 15th, 2021
- Reflecting on 'The Queen's Gambit': Are women genetically hardwired to underperform men in chess? - Genetic Literacy Project - January 13th, 2021
- Chess Market: Global Strategies and Insight driven transformation 2020 2026 - SoccerNurds - January 13th, 2021
- Why Its Not Too Late to Learn New Skills - The New Yorker - January 13th, 2021
- Global Counter UAV Market 2020 Trends, Demand and Scope with Outlook, Business Strategies and Forecast 2025 - SoccerNurds - January 13th, 2021
- The Seedy Chess World of Queens Gambit Is the Shows Masterstroke - Observer - January 9th, 2021
- Chess Market Study by Global and Regional Analysis with Forecast | The House of Staunton, ChessSUA, CNCHESS - NeighborWebSJ - January 9th, 2021
- How this Ontario woman's online chess school is getting young girls worldwide excited about the game - Toronto Star - January 9th, 2021
- Americans are living 30 years longer on average and that's a big plus for businesses - Palo Alto Online - January 9th, 2021
- From Text to Tablet: How to Learn in Lockdown - Global Citizen - January 9th, 2021
- Overcoming lockdowns and uncertainty to triumph at the end of a tough year - Neos Kosmos - January 9th, 2021
- Science-backed strategies to deal with stress and anxiety - World Economic Forum - January 9th, 2021
- 'The Queen's Gambit' Is About More Than Just Chess - Study Breaks - January 6th, 2021
- Barnegat's Kasey Keshecki is our Student of the Week - wobm.com - January 6th, 2021
- Film Study: The Ohio State Offense Was Prepared to Peak in the College Football Playoff | Eleven Warriors - Eleven Warriors - January 6th, 2021
- Chess Market Statistical Overview 2021-2026 with Industry Insights and Growth by ChessSUA, CNCHESS, ChessBaron, Chessncrafts, Chessbazaar.com, and... - January 6th, 2021
- Global Used Construction Machinery Market Precise Scenario Covering Trends, Competitive Scenario, Business Opportunities and Growth Forecast during... - January 6th, 2021
- 2021 Could Be a Banner Year for AIIf We Solve These 4 Problems - Singularity Hub - January 6th, 2021
- Anti-UAV Defense System Market Analysis, Opportunities, Competition Scenario, Threats, Future Prospects, Trends, Applications, And Growth Forecast To... - January 6th, 2021
- Global Chess Market to 2026 Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis, and Forecast - Factory Gate - January 4th, 2021
- From the shadows into the light the man who broke the UFO embargo grew up in Sarasota - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - January 4th, 2021