HSSP Spring 2016
Course Catalog


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Computer Science Engineering
Humanities Mathematics
Science Social Science
Miscellaneous


Computer Science

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C10275: Automated Spreadsheets: Theory and Practice
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Jerry Wu

It's well-known that spreadsheets are great for organizing lists of data, but they're also great for using formulas to process it and using conditional formatting to automatically color-code.

We'll go over some commonly used formulas and recreate some cool spreadsheets I've made or used over the years, including an implementation of a variant of Stratego.

C10274: Making games with Gameblox Full!
Difficulty: **

Make small, simple games using Gameblox, an online blocks based programming environment made here at MIT. So far, users have made a wide range of games, from tower defense, to maze, and item collection games. By applying basic programming concepts, you'll make something fun that others can play online.

No previous programming experience is required.


Engineering

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E10243: The Science and Engineering of Perception
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Siddharth Trehan

Self-driving cars see the road, its markings, and pedestrians crossing it to steer themselves safely; Siri uses complex audio processing and speech recognition algorithms to pick up phrases and even whole sentences; music apps like Pandora and Spotify learn your tastes in music to the point where they can suggest new music that you're likely to enjoy. They are not magic.

The technologies mentioned above all utilize capabilities that humans instinctively possess: the ability to make intelligent judgments based on our perceptual senses. Recently, machines have become much better at making these same sort of perceptual judgments, and many times their design is either inspired by or coincidentally shares common elements with how humans accomplish the same thing using our senses and our brains. In this class, we explore how our senses are suited to solving perceptual problems, how we design machines to solve very similar problems, and how the algorithms for the two compare. Our study will span the engineering disciplines of computer vision, speech recognition, signal processing, and artificial intelligence; and the scientific fields of biology and physics. The goal is to look at all the difficult perceptual problems both nature and engineers have encountered (vision, hearing, learning), look at how they've tried to solve them, and ultimately to try and make some "sense" out of them.

A word of advice: do not let any of the big words I may have used deter you from signing up, though at the same time, do be aware that this class will have a lot of math because that is the tool we use to understand complex things we do not yet understand.


Prerequisites
Calculus, basic linear algebra (know what vectors and matrices are), comfort with math, no programming knowledge of any sort required

E10272: Electronics for Medical Device Design
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Jason Yang

Come learn about medical devices! This class will take you through the basics of electronics with a focus on the challenges presented in designing medical devices. We will be looking at everything from the very basics of circuit design all the way though design tradeoffs and non-idealities of the real world. The class will be taught using real world examples leading up to building a EKG.


Prerequisites
Prior circuit experience recommended but not required. Basic Physics (E/M) recommended but not required.

E10258: Building and Bending Circuits Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Leslie Watkins

This class will give a mostly qualitative overview of circuit design, covering basic principles such as how current flows through a circuit and how it is affected by voltage sources, switches, and resistors.

The curriculum will have a strong focus on hands-on building and exploration. Students will build their own matching game, and modify a keychain toy to be a musical instrument!

E10251: Make Your Own Color Organ!
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Kristina Schmidt

Ever wondered how people make lights go with music? Have no fear, in this class we'll be making our very own color organs! Pump of the bass and let your LEDs run wild. It's gonna be awesome.


Prerequisites
Some knowledge of circuits will be helpful, but I'll start from the beginning. No formal prerequisites.

E10224: This is How We Do It: Methods and Technologies behind Modern Biological Questions Full!
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Deniz Aksel, Sophia Liu

This class will show you what life scientists really do in their lab-caves all day! We will delve into the technologies that support big scientific questions. Every class will have an overarching scientific question. From looking at the methods that scientists have developed to visualize cells to how scientists are modifying cell behavior, we hope to introduce students to the wonderful world of science! Class sessions will cover the fundamentals of methods, followed by contemporary developments in biotechnology, and will occasionally incorporate hands-on activities and demos.


Prerequisites
Physics, Biology (AP Biology preferred), Curiosity!


Humanities

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H10253: The Science of Language: Introduction to Linguistics
Difficulty: **

Explore human languages, piece apart their puzzles, and participate in experiments!

This class will be an in-depth hands-on introduction to Linguistics, the scientific study of human languages. Each week we will solve language-related puzzles and create in-class experiments. The discoveries we will make will lead to insights about what sounds languages can be made of, how sounds are put together to form meaning, how languages are structured, and how they are acquired.

The main goal is for you, the students, to discover through hands-on experience the many aspects of the scientific study of language. We will discuss several sub-fields of linguistics, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics, using not only English but a variety of other languages to spark our debates.

Come expecting to learn, to decipher, and to question what you already know about language.

H10233: David Foster Wallace
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Jessica Sagers

Explore the tumultuous life, genius work, and tragic suicide of one of the most brilliant authors in contemporary fiction. Together, we'll read and discuss a selection of Wallace's journalism, essays, and shorter fiction. Wallace's work is known to be as difficult as it is rewarding, so you'll do best in this class if you're a bright reader and a thoughtful writer. Come ready to begin a literary relationship with an author that will afford you serious intellectual credibility in college. ;) Serious students only, please.


Prerequisites
Exceptional reading skills, an extensive vocabulary, and a passion for literature.

H10239: Introduction to Fiction Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Caitlyn Kinsella

Where do you begin, when you decide to write? During the first two weeks of class, discussion will focus on questions of originality, inspiration, and the varied motivations for telling stories. In addition, we will look at the basics of fiction–– character, dialogue, plot, structure, and style–– and how they are used to build creative work. Frequent writing exercises will be used to put these techniques into practice.

Over the course of the following four weeks, each student will write a short story to be workshopped by the group in a fun and supportive atmosphere. The goal is for each student to leave the class with a completed draft of his or her story, thoughtful and personalized critiques from the instructor and other students, and recommendations for outlining and revision.

Please bring paper and writing implements, or a laptop, to class.


Prerequisites
Willingness to share your written work Ability to make time for assigned reading and writing outside of class

H10257: The Philosophy of Storytelling
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Erik Hanson

Human beings have, and have always had, a driving need to tell and absorb stories. They are vital for our survival in so many ways. This class will focus on storytelling from it's earliest known formations to it's contemporary expressions in literature, art, performance, music, and film. We will look at the shapes of stories. What makes an effective story? Where do stories come from? We will range from the Ancient Greek "invocation of the muse", and the understanding of story as a gift from the gods, to Romantic and contemporary conceptions of "genius" and the stereotype of the solitary artist. What is the nature of the creative imagination? We will also look at the way in which cultural forces effect the formation and reception of stories.

I hope to show students some of the best and most beautiful stories I know, and I hope that they in turn will come prepared to share their favorites.

H10276: Societal Dynamics
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Matthew Davis

How does a society undergo change, and what factors underpin and cause such change? Together, we will explore how societies function at a fundamental level, and apply the lessons learned to our lives.

Course will include some written, reflective assignments.


Prerequisites
None

H10265: Creative Writing - Introduction to Poetry
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Emily Frisella

This class will be run partly as a reading group, partly as a creative writing workshop. During a typical session, we'll start out by reading and discussing one or two poems, then use these as a jumping-off place for our own creative work. We'll spend the second part of the class drafting poems, then reconvene to share our work with one another. Every few weeks, we'll also have revision sessions to edit and polish poems drafted in earlier classes. Topics we may cover include: formal poetry (sonnets, sestinas, villanelles, and the like), free verse, blank verse, prose poetry, concrete poetry, erasure poetry, and ekphrastic poetry. We'll also talk about how to submit your writing for publication and take a look at some of the many fantastic literary magazines that welcome submissions from teen writers. The class will culminate with the publication of a student-produced literary 'zine featuring each student's favorite poems written during the class.


Mathematics

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M10220: The Mathematics of Very Stupid Programming Languages
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Ziv Scully

This is a mathy class about the theory of computation. We'll learn about all sorts of systems that are as (theoretically) powerful as the programming languages used in the computer you're using to read this very text. Each system is interesting in its own way, and we'll spend some time figuring out how to do complex computation in what are essentially Very Stupid Programming Langages (VSPLs, for short).

The class will cover some technical math things, like Turing machines and $$\lambda$$-calculus. It will also cover some things that at first glance seem less technical, like making tilings with colorful squares and the word "heterological".


Prerequisites
This is a math class, so no programming experience required! There's also no formal math prerequisite, but we'll be doing some mathy thinking. If you know what the word "function" means in a math context (things like $$f(x)$$) then you're definitely fine. If you don't know algebra, you might have a hard time.

M10237: A Primer on Functional Analysis
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Yash Kothari

"It's not what we cover, but what you discover..."

In this course, we shall uncover the beautiful subject of Functional Analysis without going into too much detail. We will explore the most fundamental results and peruse over their ramifications. We shall also look at applications of Functional Analysis (e.g Quantum Physics!).


Prerequisites
Single-Variable Calculus should suffice. I shall build up the necessary machinery as required. As mentioned, it's not an in-depth course but rather a broad introduction.

M10230: Relational Databases Before There Were Such Things Full!
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Stirling Newberry

This is a story about the underpinnings of what we now call relational databases. It may sound fancy to remember Codd and Date, the progenitors of the relational database, are not household names. But even with these two, the story goes back hundreds of years. This is that story in the outlines, or at least a version of it, which reaches back not to Codd and Date, but to Galileo Galilei, and forward to an unknown future.


Prerequisites
None

M10254: The Limit Does Not Exist: Infinity in Mathematics Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Elaine Reichert

This course provides an introduction to a variety of topics and questions relating to the mathematical concept of infinity. For example, is infinity a number or something else entirely? Are there different sizes, or "levels," of infinity? How can we prove a property for all real numbers if there are infinitely many of them? Other topics include fractals, Zeno's paradoxes, and infinite sequences and series.


Prerequisites
No calculus necessary.

M10273: Differential Geometry
Difficulty: ***

Gentle introduction to the ideas of differential geometry, which are fundamental to our understanding of physical concepts like general relativity and black holes.

Curves in Euclidean 2- and 3-space. Curvature and torsion. Surfaces. Gaussian and mean curvature.

Topics will be tailored to student interest and background.


Prerequisites
Good understanding of differential and integral calculus, as from AP Calculus BC or, ideally, a multivariable calculus course. We will start by reviewing the basic concepts of multivariable calculus relevant for the rest of the course.

M10259: Introduction to Real Analysis Full!
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: yc yu

Our intuition is comfortable with integers, rational numbers, and their arithmetic. In the rational number system, a square with side length 1 has area 1, one with side length $$\frac{3}{2} $$ has area $$\frac{9}{4} $$; it seems almost certain to our intuition that we may adjust the side length "smoothly" between 1 and $$\frac{3}{2} $$ to obtain a square of arbitrary area between 1 and $$\frac{9}{4} $$. But we seem to run into trouble finding the square with area 2. How do we keep our faith in our intuition?

In Real Analysis we define a number system in which we can adjust things "smoothly" and more powerful tools such as differentiation and integration.

Topics will reflect student interest. Readings and exercises will be crucial.


Prerequisites
Willingness to proactively participate in discussion and ask questions.


Science

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S10229: Solid State Chemistry
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Ahaan Rungta

In this class, we will cover all of the fundamental concepts in a very specific type of chemistry - the part of the science that deals with solids and their very unique properties. This course will get you ready for and open your eyes to the field of material science engineering, which relies completely on the amazing dynamics we will learn about.


Prerequisites
A basic understanding of the periodic table and atoms.

S10232: The Planets Full!
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Stirling Newberry

A trip through a bold beginning - not all that long ago, the last planet was discover in 1930. Not since the 1830's was the any controversy about what a planet was. Now the are planets around other stars, and life is a hot topic. We will touch on the inner planets (and 2 dwarfs), the outer planets, the far flung dwarfs, and the planets of the stars.

S10252: Relativity
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Ileana Rugina

This course will introduce Special Relativity, and will discuss a couple of selected topics from General Relativity.


Prerequisites
Mechanics and Single Variable Calculus

S10245: Organic Chemistry Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Janice Ong

Organic chemistry is fundamental to our understanding of many of our modern drugs and materials. In this class, we'll start with factors that affect how molecules react - such as acidity and basicity, nucleophilicity and sterics. Then, we'll move into using these tools to understand reactions like substitution, elimination, and carbonyl chemistry - and how these can be put together to make more complex molecules.


Prerequisites
A good understanding of high school chemistry, or AP Chemistry, including electronegativity, formal charge, possibly basic organic naming

S10256: Parallels between Art and Physics: the Makings of an Intellectual Revolution Full!
Difficulty: **

Art and physics, for most, seem like disparate fields. However, the same revolutionary ideas that broke stylistic molds for artists also inspired tectonic shifts in our understanding of physical reality. If you’ve ever walked into an art museum and felt intimidated by paintings with random splashes of color and felt like you couldn’t discern any reasonable meaning, it’s probably because the composition challenges your very understanding of light, space, and time. This is the same feeling that many students have when confronted with Einstein’s theory of relativity and Schrödinger’s quantum mechanics. These proven physical theories challenge our intuition and bring into question our standard definitions of light, space, time, and even matter.

In our HSSP class, we (an art enthusiast and a fledgling physicist) will aim to dissect the modern paradigm shift in thought around the early 20th century and onward by exploring connections underlying modern art and physics. Since this class really aims at understanding the roots of an intellectual revolution, there will be an emphasis on in-class activities focused on getting into the mindset of the pioneering artists and physicists of the 20th century. This may include but is not limited to active discussions, hands-on art projects, and group problem solving. We will also spend time on developing some theoretical background in special relativity and quantum mechanics to understand their implications and how they change our perception of reality. Come with an open mind and an enthusiasm to learn. We hope to challenge you to explore new perspectives and look forward to learning from you as well!


Prerequisites
Knowledge of algebra is encouraged

S10277: The Science of Nutrition: A Microscopic to Macroscopic Exploration Full!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Emily Venable

Food is a major part of our lives from its day to day necessity to its cultural impact. This course will take both a scientific and cultural approach to understanding food and nutrition. We will start at the basic building blocks of nutrients and work our way up to dietary trends and marketing of food through the media. Students will walk away as introspective consumers better able to make choices about what they eat.


Prerequisites
There are no prerequisites. Some exposure to biological and chemical science concepts is helpful, but not necessary.

S10269: The Physics of Modern Technology: AM Radio Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Liam Cohen

This class aims at teaching, over a six week period, the underlying physics behind one of the most important technological advances of the 20th century: A.M. radio. Throughout the course we will develop the fundamental mathematics and physics necessary to understand how our society sends terabytes of wireless information daily. Some of the topics covered will be: antenna physics, electromagnetic radiation (in vacuum and in media), basic circuit analysis, and signal demodulation. Each class will contain a combination of lecture, group problem solving (to wrestle with the more mathematical concepts) and labs (where the students demonstrate the concepts just learned). At the end of the course, students will synthesize everything they have learned by creating their own A.M. radio. Hopefully, at the end students will take away a deeper understanding of the advances that have enabled so much of our modern technology, fostering a more profound interest in and appreciation of how our world works.


Prerequisites
Understanding of Algebra II

S10238: Adventures in Marine Biology Full!
Difficulty: **

A mollusk walks up to a sea cucumber...

This course will focus on how to present marine biology in a visual form. Students will learn about marine biology systems focusing on cells, organisms, and ecosystems. Throughout the course, we will be exploring scientific concepts, participating in hands on activities, and creating marine biology models through food, cloth, and clay. By the end of the six weeks, students will have a solid understanding of micro to macro life in the oceans and will have visual models to show for it.

...with fronds like these who needs anemones?? (Finding Nemo, 2003)


Prerequisites
some sort of high school biology

S10261: A Brief Intro to Quantum Field Theory
Difficulty: ***

Quantum mechanics and special relativity make weird predictions. Space and time can stretch, particles are actually waves, and $$E = mc^2$$! What happens when these two weird things collide? Quantum Field Theory (QFT) that's what! In this course the introductory concepts of quantum mechanics and special relativity will be taught. The course will culminate in a brief intro to the concepts of QFT. By the end of this course we hope that you will have an appreciation for the wonderful word of Quantum Fields.


Prerequisites
It would be useful if students came in having taken an introductory physics course. An understanding of basic calculus would also be helpful but is not required


Social Science

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S10228: Social Theory, Philosophy, and Existence
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Shahrukh Khan

Scientists can surely figure out what things are and how they work - whether it is a chemical bond or a human. But they cannot really explain why a thing is. This class is for the observers, the thinkers, the criticizers: learn about the underlying, deep structures that govern our existence and our society. We will be looking at the thought of a few thinkers (mostly 19th/20th-century Europe, but there may be some medieval/classical ones as well) throughout. It is sure to be a fun, engaging, and rewarding discussion-based class!


Prerequisites
Some familiarity with philosophy/social thought. Have a strong desire to learn more about not only what you see, but what you don't see.

S10249: International Development and the Need for Evaluation Full!

Around the world people are fed up with poor education, inadequate healthcare, and poverty. Some of those people have taken it upon themselves to work through governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations to address such misfortunes. In this class, we will learn about the problems these organizations face and explore case studies as a means of evaluation.

S10267: Global Health 101
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Madeline Jenkins

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family." In this class we'll discuss challenges in the arena of global health as well as what is being done to tackle these issues. You'll learn through lectures, discussions, debates, and so on.

S10244: The Dark Continent (Who Dimmed the Light?) Full!
Difficulty: *

There’s a class 99% of you will never take during your educational career. A topic 99% of you would never learn. And this topic affects over a billion people. An entire continent. The continent that appears on your TV screen or your social media account whenever things go wrong. Things always seem to go wrong. We are talking about Africa. Come learn about colonialism and its continued effect on the continent. Why does it appear that most African countries can’t get it right politically, why there always appear to be brutal civil wars, why do the countries languish in poverty despite numerous natural resources? You are guaranteed to learn something new, and can be the change we wish to see in the continent.

I also taught this class during MIT Splash (Fall 2015), and the students loved it and said it was fun! They rated it highly too (4.5/5). Sign up!

S10231: The Women of SciFi Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Stirling Newberry

The women of science fiction have received a short shift, and it is time we did something about it. The are too many authors to list, but here is a start: Ursula Le Guin (A Wizard of Earthsea), Octavia Buller (Parable of the Sower), M L'Engle (A Wrinkle in Time), MZ Bradley (The Mists of Avalon), Jeanette Winerson(The Stone Gods) ,JK Rowling (The Philosopher's Stone). We will read a book a week, a discuss it.


Prerequisites
The ability to read

S10250: Introduction to Microeconomics Full!
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Jose Esparza

Have you learned calculus and don't know what to do with it?

This course will introduce us to microeconomics, the sub-field of economics that studies the decisions individual people or businesses do when facing scarcity.
(This is different from macroeconomics which studies how the economy in general works e.g. recessions, inflation, etc.)

In this course we will learn the language, concepts , and basic mathematics used in economics to model individuals maximizing their happiness or businesses maximizing their profits. Depending how it goes we might finish with concepts such as game theory.


Prerequisites
Algebra II Calculus I


Miscellaneous

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X10289: Learn to Play Bridge
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Shirley Dulcey

Amaze your friends, stun your parents! Learn to play bridge, the
world's most challenging card game, with the MIT/Draper Lab bridge
club! This course is designed to teach anyone at any level of
knowledge to play bridge, or to improve their bridge skills. We
will be using the Audrey Grant Club Course, a nationally acclaimed
teaching program, which teaches the basics of bidding, play, and
defence. No prior knowledge is necessary.

X10290: Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Lecture Series
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Marianne Olsen

Lecture series in subjects classified as "HASS" at MIT: Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

X10284: Math & Science Lecture Series
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Ahaan Rungta

Lecture Series in mathematics and the sciences.