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CS Wednesday Talks

CS Wednesday Talks take place in the ASH lobby or auditorium. A light lunch is served at noon. Talks begin at 12:00 and end by 1:00 p.m.

March 26, 2014
Student LIGHTNING TALKS about Their CS Division III Research

Omri Bernstein:  Learnable Quantum Computer Programming
Division III Committee Chair: Lee Spector. Committee Members: Herb Bernstein, Zeke Nierenberg
: What happens when you combine quantum physics and computer programming? Weird stuff is what—notions of “information” and “information processing” fundamentally change. This talk will discuss quantum computing programming: what it is, why it’s important, and how it could be made learnable. I will do so by demonstrating my Division III project, an interactive quantum computer simulator website which aims to be an educational tool for the quantum-confused (which is to say, all of us).

Emma C. Lewin Opitz: The Relationship between Speech and Music: Tonality and Emotion:
Division III Committee Co-Chairs: Mark Feinstein, Neil Stillings. Committee Member: Laura Sizer
Abstract: Following up work conducted at the University of Vienna researching the tonal properties of speech that convey emotion to the listener, my Division III directly applies our previous findings to music. We took the tonal properties involved in conveying emotion in speech and converted those into digital a-musical stimuli and asked participants to rate them on their arousal and valence level. Work at the University of Vienna, Department of Cognitive Biology was completed under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Liu Bowling in 2013.

Louisa Smith: Exploring the Effects of Stereotype Threat on Women’s Math Performance through Salivary Cortisol Levels
Division III Committee Chair: Jane Couperus. Committee Member: Laura Sizer
Abstract: When performing a math task, women risk being judged according to the negative stereotype that women inherently possess weak mathematical abilities. This situation is referred to as stereotype threat and has been shown to produce a performance gap between equally qualified men and women. Female underperformance has generally been attributed to a decrease in cognitive resources resulting from an increase in apprehension and emotional processing; however, as of yet there is a lack of physiological evidence to support these assertions. My Division III work aims to address this gap by looking at female participants’ salivary cortisol response to taking a math test.

March 12, 2014
Making the Case for Better Non-formal Educator Preparation
Tim Zimmerman, Visiting Assistant Professor of Cognition and Education
: Considerable time, energy, and research funding is expended on preparing K-12 teachers for their role as educators in our compulsory, “formal” classroom-based educational system.  Yet these are not the only educators we encounter throughout our lives.  Rob Semper, Executive Associate Director at the Exploratorium museum in San Francisco, often cites the statistic that we spend 10% of our lives in “formal” educational settings.  Of course, as he notes, this means we spend 90% of our lives not in “formal” educational settings, often interacting with people in educator roles such as museum docents, tour guides, environmental educators, and natural and cultural resource interpreters.  And yet, few of these educators have taken courses in learning theory or pedagogical practice.  I argue that providing theoretical grounding and pedagogical practice for non-formal educators is crucial to improving learning that happens outside classroom walls.  In this interactive talk, we’ll explore examples, collaboratively generate connections to ideas in cognitive science, and consider the role Hampshire College can play in this important arena.

Biography: Timothy (Tim) D. Zimmerman received a B.S. in biology and marine biology from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, an M.S. in marine biology from the College of Charleston, and a Ph.D. in science education from the University of California, Berkeley. He researches ocean and environmental science learning in non-school contexts (museums, outdoors, etc.) and its relationship to environmental decision-making. Tim combines qualitative, quantitative and design-based research methodologies to study learners as they move across informal-formal learning context boundaries.  When not in the office, you can find him exploring outdoors, hiking with his partner and daughter, rock climbing or making beer at home.

March 5, 2014
Russell and the Conflict Between Physics and Experience
Rebecca Keller (F13) and Jonathan Westphal, Visiting Professor of Philosophy
Abstract: Science seems to conflict with everyday experience. Science tells us about wavelengths, but we experience colors. Science tells us about the energy of molecules, but we experience heat. Bertrand Russell took the view that this conflict is to be resolved in favour of science against everyday experience, and that everyday experience contradicts itself. We will discuss this argument in various forms.
Naive realism leads to physics. Physics, if true, shows that naive realism is false. Therefore naive realism if true is false. Therefore it is false. - Bertrand Russell
Rebecca Keller (F13), is a CS student.
Jonathan Westphal is a Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Hampshire College, teaching philosophy in the School of Cognitive Sciences. He has interests in the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and epistemology. His most recent work has been on the philosophy of time and on freewill, and the relation between the two, for example in his "Is There a Modal Fallacy in Van Inwagen's "First Formal Argument"?' Analysis 72 (2012). He is currently teaching a class on the philosophy of language and, together with other members of CS, a class on the philosophy of color. 

February 26, 2014
Long Division with Roman Numerals? The Quest for Intuitive Notations and Data Visualizations
Tony McCaffrey, Ph.D., Innovation Accelerator, Inc.
: Only the top mathematicians of the culture could perform long division with Roman numerals. Change the notation to Arabic numerals and now we teach long division to elementary school children. Today, we use the calculus notation created by Leibniz rather than Newton's because it is more intuitive. But what makes a notation intuitive? Using results from embodied cognition on how we naturally project meaning into spatial relations and bodily actions, I am developing a new sub-field called ergosemantics (i.e., the ergnomics of semantic representations) that applies beyond human computer interaction to any notation or data visualization. In the age of Big Data, we especially need intuitive ways to make sense of data and ergosemantics has the potential for some breakthroughs.
Biography: Dr. Tony McCaffrey's dissertation at UMass Amherst articulated the first successful technique to counteract functional fixedness--the most famous obstacle to innovation. Other innovation techniques also flow from his Obscure Features Hypothesis for innovation. Tony's new company, Innovation Accelerator, recently received an NSF SBIR grant to further commercialize his software that finds all the solutions to a problem like yours in the patent database. Tony's latest product is Brainswarming, a much more effective group problem solving technique than brainstorming.

February 12, 2014
Looking Backwards, or, Using Modern Digital Technology to Animate the Past
Chris Perry, associate professor of Media Arts and Sciences, and Michael Lesy, professor of literary journalism
: The 350,000 3D stereographs of the Keystone-Mast Collection are housed in an earthquake-proof vault, thirty feet underground at the University of California, Riverside. From this archive, Hampshire College Professor Michael Lesy has selected 300 images of people and places from the world as it existed more than 100 years ago. These will be the basis of LOOKING BACKWARD, a major book and traveling exhibition scheduled for 2016.  After a brief introduction by Professor Lesy to the LOOKING BACKWARD project, Professor Perry will discuss the research and development effort Chris is coordinating which aims to bring the stereographs to life for the gallery exhibition. Perry's informal presentation will touch on computer vision topics like optical flow and stereo correspondence algorithms, digital retouching strategies, and the pleasures of getting in over one's head as long as you're doing it with old friends.
Chris Perry, associate professor of Media Arts and Sciences at Hampshire College, holds an M.S. in Media Arts and Sciences from the Media Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MFA in Art from UMASS Amherst. His B.A., in physics and astronomy, is from Amherst College. Prior to Hampshire, Chris worked at Pixar Animation Studios as a technical director on the films "A Bugs Life" and "Finding Nemo" and as a graphics software engineer on "Toy Story 2." Before that, Chris worked at Rhythm & Hues Studios. His primary interests are in computer graphics and visual storytelling--particularly the intersection of the two.
Michael Lesy, professor of literary journalism, received a B.A. in theoretical sociology at Columbia University, an M.A. in American social history at the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. in American cultural history at Rutgers University. He has published 13 books of history, biography, and narrative nonfiction. Professor Lesy's most recent book, Repast: Dining Out at the Dawn of the New American Century, 1900-1910 (2013), written in collaboration with his wife, Lisa Stoffer, was inspired by the New York Public Library's Buttolph Menu Collection. Professor Lesy’s books have been made into operas, plays, dance performances, and films. In 2007, the United States Artists Foundation named Professor Lesy its first Simon Fellow. In 2013, he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.




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